Referral to a specialist

Find out when GPs refer people to see an Oesophageal cancer specialist.

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

Urgent referral

You should get an appointment within 2 weeks for an endoscopy test to look inside your food pipe if you have difficulty swallowing (dysphagia).

You should also have an urgent referral if you’re 55 or older, have lost weight and have any of the following symptoms
  • pain in your upper tummy (abdomen)
  • heartburn or acid indigestion (stomach acid coming back up into the food pipe)
  • indigestion (dyspepsia)
You might have an urgent referral if you have indigestion that is getting worse and you have an increased risk of oesophageal cancer. For example, you have
  • cell changes in the lining of your food pipe
  • a condition called Barrett’s oesophagus

Immediate referral

Your GP should consider referring you for an endoscopy as soon as possible if you've been vomiting blood (haemetemesis).

Non urgent referral

A non urgent referral means you can expect to see a specialist within 6 weeks of seeing your GP.

Your GP should consider referring you for a non urgent endoscopy if you are 55 or older and have
  • indigestion that hasn't improved with medicines
  • pain in your upper tummy (abdomen) and low levels of red blood cells (anaemia)
Your GP should also consider referring you if you’re 55 or older and have a raised platelet count or nausea and vomiting with any of these
  • weight loss
  • heartburn or acid indigestion (reflux)
  • indigestion
  • pain in your upper tummy (abdomen)

UK referral guidelines

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network produce guidelines for GPs. The guidelines help them decide who needs an urgent referral.

Information panels

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.​