Referral to a specialist

Your GP should arrange for you to see a specialist if you have symptoms that could be due to nasal or paranasal sinus 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 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

There are general guidelines for all head and neck suspected cancer referrals. These guidelines vary between the different UK nations.

For nasal and paranasal sinus cancer, your doctor might refer you to a specialist urgently if you have: 

  • an unexplained lump in the head and neck area
  • recent unexplained symptoms in one side of the nose such as a blockage or a bloody discharge

Your GP might also take into account whether you have any risk factors that affect your chances of developing this type of cancer.

If you're still worried

It’s important to remember that nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancers are very rare. But 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 and then you may be able to decide together whether you need to see a specialist.

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