Referral to a specialist

Vulval cancer is rare. Most cases are diagnosed in women over the age of 65.

Your GP should arrange for you to see a specialist if you have symptoms that could be due to vulval 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 vulval 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 to a specialist if you have: 

  • an unexplained vulval lump or sore (ulceration)
  • bleeding from the vulva

Your doctor might first of all suggest some treatment for vulval itching or pain. These symptoms may be due to a skin infection, for example. Do go back if you have been prescribed treatment and your symptoms are continuing or getting worse.

If you're still worried

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. Together you can decide if you should see a specialist.

What happens when you see a specialist?

If you see a specialist they will want to examine you and may do several tests.

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