Cancer support

Two week wait

The ‘two week wait’ referral pathway is a request from us to ask the hospital for an urgent appointment for you. This is because you presented with symptoms that are present in some cancer cases, so we need to be able to rule it out.

Many patients that are referred under the two week appointment system do not have cancer. Statistics show that only 1 in 20 referrals will result in a cancer diagnosis.

It is likely that you will either get your appointment by post or over the phone. If you have a phone call from the appointments team, it is possible the number might not display, so please make sure you answer.

Depending on your symptoms, your appointment may be over the phone, to attend an outpatient clinic, a diagnostic test (such as an x-ray or endoscopy) or a combination of the above.

Attending this appointment within two weeks is vitally important and will allow you to benefit from:

  • An early diagnosis and earlier access to treatment, which is shown to improve health outcomes or, (help people to live longer with their cancer)
  • In most cases, early reassurance that cancer has not been diagnosed

If your symptoms change, get worse or if new symptoms develop, you should contact us immediately.

If you don’t get your appointment details within a week, please contact us and we can assist you with chasing it up.

What symptoms might need an urgent referral?

  • A lump that does not go away
  • A change in size, shape or colour of a mole
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • A change in bowel or bladder habits (including increased frequency or bleeding)
  • Persistent tiredness and/or unexplained weightloss

Will I need any tests and how will I get my results?

You may require specialist tests, and if this is the case, you should receive information about your tests and any preparations you need to make. It may also be the case that you will need to have more than one test on different days.

The test(s) may take place either before or during your first hospital appointment or may be organised for a later date. This will help the specialist understand the cause of your symptoms.

It is possible that you may initially be contacted by a nurse who will assess your symptoms and advise whether an appointment or diagnostic test is the next appropriate step. You should be aware that you may need to have a physical examination at your appointment.

You may also wish to ask how you will get your results and how long they might take.  It is very likely that the person testing you will not be able to tell you your results and you will therefore need to wait to speak to your specialist.

The doctor/specialist who orders your test(s) will explain your results. It may be that you need further tests and if so, this will be explained to you by the specialist or someone in their team.

If you have been waiting longer than expected for your results, you should contact your specialist’s secretary.

If you don’t have their contact details, please contact us and we will be able to assist.

What do I need to do now?

  • We always recommend you take the earliest appointment offered to you. This includes your first appointment and any further tests or investigations. This will help the specialists develop a treatment plan for you more quickly.
  • Make sure we (your GP) have your correct contact details, e.g. address telephone number(s)and e-mail address. Usually, you will be contacted by telephone by the appointments team.
  • Please try not to cancel your appointment. It is important to let the hospital know immediately if you are unable to attend your appointment, so the appointment can then be offered to someone else. It is vitally important that you arrange an alternative date and time as soon as possible.
  • If you require an interpreter, please advise the hospital in advance so they can get that arranged for you.
  • Prior to your appointment, you may wish to check if you can take a family member of friend with you for support
  • Make sure you know where you are going to ensure you are on time.
  • At the end of your hospital appointment, you will be given more information about what will happen next. This may include the contact details of a specialist nurse.
Knowing the signs of cancer could save your life

Cancer is a disease of our cells, where they have become abnormal. These cancer cells divide uncontrollably to make more and more abnormal cells; they invade and destroy healthy tissues surrounding them, including organs. Learn more about cancer on the NHS website.

Your risk of developing cancer can depend on your age, genetics and your lifestyle but it is believed that around 40% of cancers are preventable. Finding cancer early means it is easier to treat. Learn more about signs and symptoms of cancer on the NHS website.

If you notice any possible cancer symptoms or any changes that are unusual for you, although it is unlikely to be cancer, it’s important to speak to a GP so they can investigate.

Cancer screening

Cancer screening is a way to pick up abnormal changes early. Doing this can help prevent cancer occurring or detect it at an early stage.

Screening is offered to the people who are most at risk of developing particular types of cancer. There are three national cancer screening programs in England:

It is important that if you are invited for screening, you attend your appointment, or for bowel screening, carry out the test at home. Find out more about screening.

Reduce your risk

By becoming more cancer aware, you can reduce your risk of cancer.

Lifestyle choices can help you stay healthier and reduce your risk of developing diseases such as cancer, such as by maintaining a healthy weightstopping smoking and drinking less.

Cancel Out Cancer are free one-hour cancer awareness sessions led by volunteers, and anyone living in Hertfordshire and west Essex is invited to join. The programme provides information about the signs and symptoms of cancer, advice on lifestyle changes to reduce your risk and screening. 

Cancel out cancer

Cancel out cancer is a campaign led by local volunteers to help improve people’s awareness and understanding of cancer, encouraging everyone to act in improving their health.

Developed with NHS patient representatives living in east and north Hertfordshire and championed by Macmillan Cancer Support, one 60-minute free session online covers cancer screening, symptoms, and prevention.

The sessions are run by dedicated volunteers, and during the past year alone they helped more than 200 people:

  • get a better understanding of how important screening is, more than 60% of cancers diagnosed through screening are picked up at an earlier stage, where the chance of recovery is higher
  • know the different symptoms to be aware of
  • learn to reduce their risk by taking practical steps like changing diet and stopping smoking.

Find out more about cancel out cancer.

Play your part and cancel out cancer

You can also learn how to become a cancel out cancer presenter, no previous experience is required. The team will provide you with a minimum of three training sessions and ongoing support, giving you all the tools and materials to take the awareness sessions out into the community.

Cancer support services

Having a diagnosis of cancer can be an extremely difficult and worrying time.

Find out more about organisations that can offer information and support for anyone affected by cancer.

The local NHS initiative one step at a time shares experiences of cancer journeys from the perspective of patients and their loved ones. 

Find out more about one step at a time.

Interested in joining a free 60 minute session

On the second Monday of every month at 6pm, the cancel out cancer volunteers host an online session over Zoom, open to the public. 

Visit Eventbrite to sign up, or email the engagement team.

Face to face sessions have been running again since Autumn 2022, with the hope to help even more people benefit from these sessions. These sessions would suit people who are able to get to a venue, and who do not have access to a computer or the internet. Please spread the word!

To enquire about a session for your community group or organisation, just email the engagement team to find out about any upcoming opportunities to join a session or arrange one for your group or organisation.