Referral to a specialist for anal cancer

Your GP should arrange for you to see a specialist if you have symptoms that could be due to anal cancer. 

Depending on your symptoms and other factors, this might be 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.

UK referral guidelines

There are guidelines for GPs to help them decide who needs a referral.

Some of the UK nations have targets around how quickly you’ll be seen. In England an urgent referral means that you should see a specialist within 2 weeks.

This 2 week time frame is not part of the waiting time targets for Scotland, Wales and (in general) Northern Ireland. But wherever you live, you are seen as quickly as possible.

Urgent referral

The referral guidelines vary slightly between the different UK nations. The following is a summary. Your GP will use these guidelines as well as their own experience and judgement.

Your GP should refer you to a specialist if you have an unexplained lump or ulceration in your anus. This should be an urgent referral.

Remember, these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, and do not necessarily mean that you have anal cancer. But it is important to get them checked out.

Other symptoms

Your GP will consider any other symptoms that you are having, so do mention these. They might also take into account whether you have any risk factors that affect your chances of developing anal cancer.

If you're still worried

Sometimes you might feel that your GP is not concerned enough about your symptoms. If you think they should be more concerned, print this page and the symptoms page. Ask your GP to talk it through with you. Then you might be able to decide together whether you should see a specialist.

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