Cancer (Adults)

Urgent Referral to Exclude Cancer

The two-week (fast track) referral pathway

Early diagnosis of a disease may mean more effective treatment and better outcomes. For this reason, where there is a possibility that symptoms could indicate cancer, people are referred urgently to see a specialist (on what is called a ‘two-week pathway’). The great majority of people referred this way do not have cancer, but it is important to see a specialist as soon as possible to confirm or exclude a cancer diagnosis.

From Cancer Research
Good explanation of the urgent cancer referral pathway Your urgent cancer referral explained | Cancer Research UK

From Macmillan Cancer Support

Who to contact if you have not received your two-week appointment


Generally local hospitals will contact you by phone within 1 week. If you are not offered an appointment within 2 weeks of the hospital receiving the referral from your GP, you should contact the hospital you have been referred to. 

Referral direct to a hospital department
Most patients will be referred directly to a particular hospital department so, for example, to exclude skin cancer a referral is done to the dermatology (skin specialist) department. What tests are carried out depends on the department. Under Buckinghamshire Health Care Trust, there is an example for a referral to the urology department and what tests might be undertaken to exclude prostate cancer.

Vague symptoms pathway
“Many patients visit their GP with symptoms, such as weight loss and tiredness which have no obvious cause. There may be a minor cause for such symptoms, but there is a small chance that they could be the signs of a serious illness, such as cancer.” so in this case patients are referred to the vague symptoms pathway, which is explained further below.
“Rapid Diagnostic Service.” NHS Frimley Health Foundation Trust website. Retrieved 12th January 2024

Local hospital’s 2-week leaflets including contact details and what to expect:

From Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Other information

From Wexham Park Hospital (Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust)

Please ensure your contact details held by your GP are up to date.


Cancer in children is not common and very few children referred to exclude cancer are ultimately diagnosed with cancer. Often rather than an electronic referral, your GP will have a telephone discussion directly with a paediatrician (children’s doctor) at the local hospital and a plan will be made when your child should be seen. This plan will be communicated directly with you in a time scale agreed with you in your child’s consultation.

Further information and support

Suspected cancer guidelines

Your GP will always explain to you why they have done a referral on a “urgent suspected cancer referral” pathway, but there is more information on what guidelines are followed under

Support after a diagnosis of cancer

If you are diagnosed with cancer, you are on the quickest pathway to receiving the best treatment available for any cancer. You can find support for any cancer diagnosis for adults under

  • Cancer- Adults
    This includes both local and national support for specific cancers but also general aspects of cancer.

Childhood cancers are not common. Both local and national support can be found under

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