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Referral to a specialist

Your GP should arrange for you to see a specialist if you have symptoms that could be due to pancreatic 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 limit does not exist in 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 for possible cancer of the pancreas if you are aged 40 or over and have jaundice. Jaundice means yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.

Your GP should consider referring you for an urgent CT scan or an urgent ultrasound scan (if a CT scan is not available), if you are aged 60 or over with weight loss and any of the following symptoms:

  • diarrhoea
  • back pain
  • tummy (abdomen) pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • newly diagnosed diabetes

These are not the only symptoms of pancreatic cancer. Symptoms such as feeling sick and loss of appetite are also common symptoms of other medical conditions. 

Information and help