If you have symptoms that concern you such as a change in bowel habit or you notice blood in your stools, it is important that you see your GP as soon as possible.
Your GP will refer you to a specialist at a hospital of your choice. They will discuss the type of referral they are making, which will depend on your symptoms. Referrals are guided by clear criteria that your GP will discuss with you.
Once you have been referred you will be seen as an out-patient and you will have the opportunity to discuss your symptoms with a consultant who will make an appropriate plan for your treatment.
This might be for you to have further investigations such as a colonoscopy or CT virtual colonscopy.
Getting a diagnosis
The next stage will depend on what is shown by these investigations. You may be referred on to another doctor or team. You may also be allocated a specialist nurse whose role it is to support you as you progress through a treatment pathway, or if no further treatment is required you may be discharged. You will be kept informed of this process throughout, and you will receive a copy of all correspondence between the hospital and your GP.
If a diagnosis of cancer is made, your case will be discussed in a weekly meeting with radiologists, oncologists surgeons and nurses who specialise in the treatment of cancer. They will make a plan for your treatment that will then be discussed with you. You will have support from the colorectal cancer nurse specialist and our Macmillan cancer information and support centre.