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Referral to a specialist

Find out when GPs refer people to see a specialist.

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

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 times for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But wherever you live, you are seen as quickly as possible. Ask your GP when you are likely to get an appointment.

Urgent referral to a specialist

You should have an urgent referral if you have swollen lymph nodes and your GP can't explain the cause. Your GP will also take into account any other symptoms you might have such as:

  • high temperatures (fevers)
  • night sweats
  • unexplained weight loss
  • itchy skin
  • shortness of breath or cough
  • pain in your lymph nodes when you drink alcohol

You usually see a haematologist. They specialise in treating blood conditions, including lymphoma.

Children or young people (up to the age of 24) should be seen by a specialist within 2 days.

Remember that these symptoms can be caused by other conditions and does not always mean that you have Hodgkin lymphoma.

Information and help