The aim of these guidelines is to facilitate appropriate referral between primary and secondary care for patients whom a GP suspects may have cancer. The guidelines are intended to help GPs, the wider primary care team, other clinicians and patients and carers to identify patients who are most likely to have cancer and who therefore require urgent assessment by a specialist. Although the public is welcome to view this website the intended audience is health care professionals and in particular in primary care. If you are a member of the public looking for information go to the NHS Informs Cancer Zone (http://www.nhsinform.co.uk/cancer/) for further advice.

Equally it is hoped that the guidelines will help GPs to identify patients who are unlikely to have cancer and who may appropriately be observed in a primary care setting or who may require non-urgent referral to a hospital.

The earlier a cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the survival outcomes. Improving the percentage of early stage diagnoses will reduce premature deaths from cancer and subsequently have a positive effect on overall life expectancy. One of the objectives of the programme is to work with GPs and the wider primary care team to promote referral or investigation at the earliest reasonable opportunity for patients who may be showing a suspicion of cancer while making the most efficient use of NHS resources and avoiding adverse impact on access.