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Tests and examinations

If your GP thinks that your symptoms need further investigation they can refer you to a hospital for tests and examinations. This referral is called a 2 week wait referral. This means that you should be seen by a hospital specialist within 14 days of them receiving the referral from your GP.

More than 9 in 10 people (90%) of people referred this way do not have cancer.

There a few different ways that you might receive the information about your hospital appointment. You may receive it whilst at the GP practice, in the post or by a telephone call.

It is very important that you attend your appointment. If you can’t make it, contact your hospital as soon as you can to rearrange it.

If you don’t get your appointment details within a week, contact your GP surgery, or any contact number you may have been provided with.

Please read the information provided with your appointment and be sure that you fully understand anything you may have to do. If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact the hospital to get further explanation.

You may be sent for tests before you see a specialist. The results will help the specialist to make your diagnosis or to eliminate a cancer diagnosis. 

Some simple preparation will make your hospital appointment less stressful:

  • Make sure you know where you are going.
  • Allow extra time in case it takes longer than you expect.
  • Take the appointment letter or notification with you as it contains important information, such as your NHS number.
  • Think about arranging things like transport or childcare for the day of your appointment.
  • Book time off work. The Citizens Advice website has information about your rights.
  • Consider taking a family member or a friend with you. They can keep you company, help asking questions and remembering what was said.
  • Take a pen and paper as you may want to write things down.
  • Be aware you may be unable to drive after certain tests. Your appointment letter will tell you if this is the case.

You may want to prepare a list of questions to ask the hospital consultant or health professional. These may include:

  • What you should do if your symptoms worsen.
  • Possible side effects of any tests or medications you are given.
  • When to expect the test results and how reliable they are.
  • What next?

Your specialist, or your GP, should explain your test results and if you need to have further tests or investigations.