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 myeloma. 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 referral means you should see a specialist within 2 weeks. This is usually a haematologist. They specialise in treating blood conditions, including myeloma.
Guidelines say if you are:
- aged 60 years or over with persistent bone pain, particularly back pain, or have an unexplained fracture you should be offered a full blood count and other blood tests
- aged 60 or over with a high calcium level or low white blood cells and other symptoms that seem like you could have myeloma, you should be offered special blood and urine tests within 2 days
Your GP will consider offering you a special blood and urine test within 2 days at any age if:
- Your blood test results are abnormal and suggest that you could have myeloma
If the results of your urine or blood tests, or other tests such as bone X-rays, suggest you could have myeloma then your GP will make an urgent referral to a haematologist.
Remember that myeloma is uncommon, and very rare in people under 40. Having symptoms such as back pain can be caused by other conditions, and does not always mean that you have myeloma. But it is important to be checked out.
UK referral guidelines
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Healthcare Improvement Scotland produce guidelines for GPs. The guidelines help them decide who needs an urgent referral.