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Referral to a specialist

Find out when GPs refer people to see an AML specialist (a doctor called a haematologist).

Your GP should arrange for you to see a specialist within 2 weeks if you have symptoms that could be due to AML. This is called an urgent referral.

Seeing your GP

It can be hard for GPs to decide who may have cancer and who might have a more minor condition. For some symptoms, your doctor may ask you to wait to see if the symptoms get better or respond to treatment, such as antibiotics.

There are guidelines for GPs to help them decide who needs a referral.

Your GP may do a blood test. If the results show signs of acute myeloid leukaemia your GP should refer you to a blood specialist straight away. This is an immediate referral. 

Referral for AML

You should be referred for a full blood count blood test within 2 days if you:
  • look unusually pale
  • have extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • have an unexplained high temperature (fever)
  • have unexplained infections that won't go away or keep coming back
  • have swollen lymph glands
  • have bruising or bleeding for no reason
  • have a petechial rash (red and purple spots on your skin)
  • have an enlarged spleen or liver on examination
Your GP should refer you immediately, within a few hours, to a specialist if you are under 24 years old if you have:
  • unexplained red or purple spots on the skin – petechia
  • an enlarged liver or spleen
If you are a child or young adult, your GP should offer you an urgent full blood count within 2 days if you :
  • look unusually pale
  • have extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • have a high temperature (fever)
  • are getting infections that won't go away
  • have swollen lymph glands
  • are having bone pain that won't go away
  • are bruising or bleeding for no reason

Some of these symptoms can be caused by other less serious medical conditions and don't always mean that you have acute leukaemia.

It's important to remember almost 6 in 10 (55%) AML cases in the UK each year are diagnosed in people aged 70 and over.

If you are still worried

Sometimes you might feel that your GP is not concerned enough about your symptoms. If you think they should be more concerned, print this page and the symptoms page. Ask your GP to talk it through with you. Together you can decide if you should see a specialist.

Information and help

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