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Referral to a specialist

Find out when GPs refer people to see a specialist.

Your GP should arrange for you to see a specialist within 2 weeks if you have symptoms that could be due to Hodgkin lymphoma. 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.

Urgent referrals

Urgent referral means you should see a specialist within 2 weeks. This is usually a haematologist. They specialise in treating blood conditions, including lymphoma.

You should have an urgent referral if you have swollen lymph nodes and your GP can't explain the cause. Your GP will also take into account any other symptoms you might have such as:

  • high temperatures (fevers)
  • night sweats
  • weight loss
  • itchy skin
  • shortness of breath
  • pain in your lymph nodes when you drink alcohol

Children or young people (up to the age of 24) should be seen by a specialist within 2 days.

Remember that these symptoms can be caused by other conditions and does not always mean that you have Hodgkin lymphoma.

UK referral guidelines

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) produce guidelines for GPs in the UK. The guidelines help them decide who needs an urgent referral.

Information and help

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