Referral to a kidney cancer specialist

Your GP should arrange for you to see a specialist if you have symptoms that could be due to kidney cancer. This is normally a specialist doctor called a urologist.

Depending on your symptoms and other factors, this might be an urgent referral. Your GP follows guidelines and uses their experience to decide this.

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 if they respond to treatment, such as antibiotics for an infection.

Your GP might arrange for you to have some tests. This will help them decide if you need to see a specialist. If you have blood in your urine (haematuria), they may refer you to a one stop haematuria clinic if there is one in your area. This means you may have all the tests and see a specialist on the same day.  

UK referral guidelines

There are guidelines to help GPs decide who needs an urgent referral. Your GP will use these guidelines as well as their own experience and judgement.

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

Your GP should arrange for you to see a specialist if you are:

  • aged 45 or over and can see blood in your urine and don't have a urine infection
  • aged 45 or over and can still see blood in your urine after treatment for a urine infection
  • any age and you have a lump in your tummy (abdomen) that your GP thinks is from your urinary system (kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra) - you may have had an ultrasound scan to check this

Your GP may arrange a non urgent referral if you are:

  • aged 60 or over and keep having unexplained urine infections
  • aged under 60 and have small amounts of blood in your urine that is seen under the microscope and isn't going away

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 kidney cancer.

If you're still worried

Sometimes you might feel that your GP is not worried enough about your symptoms. If you think they should be more concerned, print this page and the symptoms page. Ask your GP to explain why they don't think you need a referral.

Contact your GP again if your symptoms don't get better or you notice any new or unusual symptoms. 

What should I do if I don't get my appointment?

If your GP has referred you, ask them when you should get your appointment. Contact them again if you don’t get one. Some hospitals have a referral service you could contact if you know which hospital you are going to. Explain that you are waiting for an urgent suspected cancer referral.

Waiting times

Your hospital is working towards waiting time targets. For example, a target to find out whether you have cancer or not. There are also targets to starting treatment if you are diagnosed with cancer. These are slightly different depending on where you live in the UK. 

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