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Referral to a specialist

When GPs refer people to see a pancreatic cancer specialist.

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

You should have an urgent referral for possible cancer of the pancreas if you are aged 40 or over and have jaundice. Jaundice means yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.

Your GP should consider referring you for an urgent CT scan or an urgent ultrasound scan (if a CT scan is not available), if you are aged 60 or over with weight loss and any of the following symptoms:

  • diarrhoea
  • back pain
  • tummy (abdomen) pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • newly diagnosed diabetes

These are not the only symptoms of pancreatic cancer. Symptoms such as feeling sick and loss of appetite are also common symptoms of other medical conditions. 

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

Dangoor sponsorship

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.