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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 prostate cancer. 

Depending on your symptoms and other factors, this might be an urgent referral. With an urgent referral you should see a specialist within 2 weeks. 

Seeing your GP

Most patients who see a GP do not have cancer and have symptoms due to a more minor conditions. For some symptoms, your doctor may ask you to wait to see if the symptoms get better or respond to treatment, such as antibiotics.

There are guidelines for GPs to help them decide who needs a referral.

When your GP should refer you

Your GP can do some tests to help them decide whether you need a referral. This includes:

  • a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test
  • an examination of your prostate gland to check for abnormal signs, such as lumpy or hard areas (digital rectal examination)

Depending on the results of these tests your GP might refer you to a specialist. 

Urgent referral

You should get an appointment with a urologist within 2 weeks if your:

  • PSA level is higher than would be expected for someone of your age
  • prostate feels abnormal to your doctor after an examination

A urologist is a doctor who specialises in treating disorders of the urinary tract, including the bladder, kidney and prostate.

If you might be at higher risk

Speak to your GP if you think you are at higher risk of prostate cancer. You can request a PSA test.

This particularly applies to men who have family members with prostate cancer or who are of a black Caribbean or black African background.

UK referral guidelines

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) produce guidelines for GPs in the UK. The guidelines help them decide who needs an urgent referral.