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Referral to a specialist for CLL

Your GP should refer you for an urgent blood test if you have symptoms that could be due to chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). They might refer you to a blood specialist (haematologist). 

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.

Referral guidelines

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Scottish Government have produced referral guidelines for cancer. These guidelines help GPs decide who needs to see a specialist and how soon they should see them. 

For example, you might have blood tests very urgently within 2 days. Or you may see a specialist immediately (within a few hours). These time frames are not included in Scottish guidance. But wherever you live, you are seen as quickly as possible.

These guidelines vary slightly between the different UK nations. The following is a summary. 

Urgent referral

Adults over 24 years old should be referred for an urgent full blood count within 2 days, for any of the following symptoms:

  • look unusually pale
  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • unexplained high temperature (fever)
  • unexplained infections that won't go away or keep coming back
  • swollen lymph glands
  • bruising or bleeding for no reason
  • red or purple spots on your skin - petechia
  • an enlarged spleen or liver on examination

Children and young adults (under 24 years)

Your GP should refer you immediately, within a few hours, to a specialist if you have:

  • unexplained red or purple spots on the skin - petechia
  • an enlarged liver or spleen on examination

If you are a child or young adult, your GP should offer you an urgent full blood count within 2 days if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • look unusually pale
  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • unexplained high temperature (fever)
  • infections that won't go away
  • swollen lymph glands
  • bone pain that won't go away
  • bruising or bleeding for no reason
Remember most people with one or more of these symptoms don't have leukaemia. But it's important to get any symptoms checked out by your GP.

If you are still worried

Do remember that many of these symptoms can be caused by other less serious medical conditions. They do not always mean that you have chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

If you are concerned that your GP is not taking your symptoms as seriously as you think they should, you could print this page and take it along to an appointment. Ask your GP to talk it through with you and then you may be able to decide together whether you need to see a specialist and if so, how soon.