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Referral to a specialist

There are guidelines GPs have to follow to help them decide who needs to see a specialist for suspected bile duct cancer and how soon.

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.

There are particular symptoms that mean your GP should refer you to a specialist straight away. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has produced guidelines for GPs to help them decide who needs to be seen urgently by a specialist.

While reading these guidelines, it is important to remember that:

  • bile duct cancer (or cholangiocarcinoma) is rare, with around 1,600 people diagnosed each year in Great Britain
  • a number of risk factors affect your chances of developing a bile duct cancer
  • general symptoms, such as feeling sick or tired, are much more likely to be caused by something less serious

UK referral guidelines

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) say that the following symptoms need urgent referral to a specialist:

  • yellowing skin (jaundice) caused by a blockage
  • unexplained tummy (abdominal) pain and weight loss, with or without back pain
  • feeling or being sick continuously, and losing weight

You should ideally get an appointment within 2 weekds for an urgent referral.

Remember, these symptoms can be caused by other less serious medical conditions. They do not necessarily mean that you have bile duct cancer.

What to do if you are still worried

If you are concerned that your GP is not taking your symptoms as seriously as you think they should, you could print this page and take it along to an appointment. Ask your GP to talk it through with you and then you may be able to decide together whether you need to see a specialist and if so, how soon.

Information and help

Dangoor sponsorship

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.