2 week wait referrals for suspected cancer

The following has been written in conjunction with Cancer Research UK and Haughton Thornley Medical Centres based on the material they have produced to support patients and practices when patients are referred for suspected cancer. 

Cancer Research UK also have a dedicated website with general information which you can refer to as well. Below we provide more specific information based on the local services that are available in the practice too and for the residents of Tameside. 

What is a 2 week wait referral?

Your GP has referred to hospital urgently – a process also knows as the 2 week referral. 

This means that your GP has arranged for you to see a hospital doctor (specialist) to investigate your symptoms further. You may have some tests to help diagnose you. This is to find out what is wrong and it if could be cancer.

Your appointment may take up to 2 months before you are seen

Due to unprecedented pressure currently being experienced by the NHS, you may not receive an appointment for up to 2 months. We are doing all we can to try to reduce this time as best as we can but this is outside of our control. Please remember more than 9 out of 10 patients referred as a suspected cancer do not have cancer.

Receiving a 2 week wait referral

Your GP might make the appointment for you, or the hospital might contact you the next few days to confirm your appointment time. This may be one of the hospitals in Greater Manchester. 

It’s very important you attend your appointment. If your symptoms get worse while you’re waiting, contact the practice immediately or seek urgent help. See confused about who to contact if you are unsure. 

If you can’t attend the appointment, contact the hospital as soon as you can to rearrange. 

Handy Hints

  • Please ensure you have asked for access to your GP electronic health recordOver 68% of the patients in our practice have already signed up! You can then check we have the correct contact details on our computer systems including telephone numbers and address. You can also check the referral letter has gone too and can show the hospital what your GP has done by sharing your record with them when you are seen at the hospital. The hospital do not have access to your full records – only you can share them by showing your record.  
  • If you don’t receive your appointment confirmation within a week, ask to speak to the secretary in the practice. Explain that you were told to expect an appointment within 2 weeks.
  • You have a legal right to be seen by a specialist within 2 weeks of being referred. If this isn’t possible, the NHS must do everything they reasonably can to offer you an alternative – but you will need to ask the hospital to do this. 

Going to your appointment

Your appointment will include your appointment time, where you’re going, who you’re seeing and if you need to do anything to prepare.

You may be sent straight for tests, or you might see a specialist first.

When you see your specialist, you may need to describe your symptoms again. It could help to write things down in advance. See pre-consultation care for more information.

What Questions Could I Ask?

Sometimes it’s difficult to know what to ask your specialist. Here are a few ideas that might make it easier. 

  • If my symptoms get worse who should I contact?
  • Should I make any changes to the medicines I’m taking?
  • What tests will I need to have?
  • How long will the tests take?
  • What will the tests feel like?
  • Do the tests have any other effects?
  • How long will it take to get my test results?
  • Who will give me the test results?
  • If I have questions after the appointment, who should I ask?
  • Extra notes

Handy hints

  • You may need to think about arranging transport, time off work or childcare for the day of your appointment.
  • Make sure you know where you’re going when you get to the hospital.
  • You may wish to bring a family member, carer or friend with you. 
  • Your appointment may take longer than you expect, so build in plenty of extra time.
  • Make sure your mobile phone is charged in case you to make a call. 
  • You may wish to make notes at the meeting. You could write them on your smartphone, tablet or on paper for later. 
  • Remember to bring your diary with you as well in case further appointments need to be made too. 

Having tests

If you’re going for some tests, the letter will include details of these and any preparations you need to make

It is not unusual to have more than one test to diagnose you.

You might have two versions of the same test, or different tests

You can call the hospital if you have any questions

Handy Hints

  • Ask how long it will take to get your results and make a note of it
  • The person testing you will not usually be able to tell you your results. You will have to wait to speak to your specialist or rarely your GP.

Getting results

Your specialist or rarely your GP will tell you your results

Sometimes your results will be inconclusive and you may need further tests

The time it takes to receive your results will vary – sometimes you may have to wait several weeks. 

Handy hints

  • If you have another appointment, try to bring a family member, carer or friend with you.
  • You may wish to make notes at the meeting. You could write them on your smartphone, tablet or on paper for later. 
  • Call the hospital if you have been waiting for your results for longer than you expected.
  • If you have any questions, do not be afraid to ask. 

What happens next?

If you are diagnosed with cancer, you will be given lots of information by your specialist. You can also call a Cancer Research UK nurse for information and support on freephone 0808 800 4040

If you aren’t diagnosed with cancer, it is still important that you continue to pay attention to your body. Tell your doctor or nurse if you notice any unusual or persistent changes but remember there are many common problems you can solve. You can also find advice on a wide range of complaints here.

Some people find a health scare makes them think about how they might improve their general health, for example by stopping smoking, keeping a healthy weight or cutting down on alcohol. All of these things can help reduce the risk of cancer – although it’s not a guarantee.

If you’d like to know more, speak to your doctor, nurse, health care assistant or visit www.cruuk.org/health

Where can I find out more?

How do I check for cancer?

Why is early diagnosis important?

Speak to your doctor or nurse who can advise you on what to do and know all about you and your circumstances. 

There are a lot of resources on this website for you to see:

Bowel and Lung Cancer screening

Breast cancer

Cervical cancer

Skin cancer

Prostate Cancer

Here are further resources on cancer type

For information and support call a Cancer Research UK nurse on:

Freephone 0808 800 4040 9am-5pm Monday-Friday

You can also visit https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-symptoms/what-is-an-urgent-referral for:

  • Explanation of different tests
  • Further tips to help you prepare
  • Help to improve your general health and lifestyle
  • You can also talk to other people going through a similar experience on their online forum Cancer Chat 

You can also visit Macmillan Cancer and Cancer Voices to find out more