Patient Leaflet

Why Have I Been Given a ‘Two Week Wait?’ Hospital Appointment?

What is a ‘two week wait’ appointment?

The ‘two week wait’ or ‘urgent’ appointment was introduced so that a specialist would see any patient with symptoms that might indicate cancer as quickly as possible. The two week wait appointment has been requested either by your GP or dentist.

Why has my GP referred me?

GPs diagnose and treat many illnesses but sometimes they need to arrange for you to see a specialist hospital doctor.  This could be for a number of reasons such as:

  • The treatment already given by your GP has not worked.
  • Your symptoms need further investigation.
  • Investigations arranged by your GP have shown some abnormal results.
  • Your GP suspects cancer.

Does this mean I have cancer?

Most of the time, it doesn’t.  Even though you are being referred to a specialist, this does not necessarily mean that you have cancer.  More than 70% of patients referred with a ‘two week wait’ appointment do not have cancer.

What symptoms might need a ‘two week wait’ appointment?

  • A lump that does not go away.
  • A change in the size, shape or colour of a mole.
  • Abnormal bleeding.
  • A change in bowel or bladder habits.
  • Continuous tiredness and/or unexplained weight loss.
  • Other unexplained symptoms.

What should I do if I’m unable to attend an appointment in the next two weeks?

This is an important referral.  Let your GP know immediately (or the hospital when they contact you) if you are unable to attend a hospital appointment within the next two weeks.

What do I need to do now?

  • Make sure that your GP has your correct address and telephone number, including your mobile phone number.
  • The hospital will try to contact you by telephone to arrange an appointment. If they are not able to make telephone contact, an appointment letter will be sent to you by post.
  • Inform your GP surgery if you have not been contacted by the hospital within three working days of the appointment with your GP.
  • You will receive further information about your appointment before you go to the hospital. It is important you read this information and follow the instructions.
  • Please feel free to bring someone with you to your appointment at the hospital.

As some hospitals have more than one site, your appointment may not be at the site closest to you to ensure you the get seen in the soonest possible time.

It is important to remember that even though you will receive a ‘two week wait’ appointment, being referred to a specialist does not necessarily mean that you have cancer. Remember, 7 out of 10 patients referred this way do not have cancer.