Last year, almost a third of patients in Gloucestershire who were given an urgent appointment to see a cancer specialist either cancelled or declined their appointment.

If a GP recommends that a patient’s symptoms need further investigation, they will make an urgent referral for their patient to have a test or see a specialist.

These appointments will be offered within two weeks, and we want to make sure people know how important it is to attend.

Dr Sadaf Haque, GP and Clinical Lead for Cancer at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“More than half of us will receive a cancer diagnosis in our lifetime.

Your GP could make an urgent referral for several reasons, for example, if they suspect cancer, if initial investigations have shown some concerning results or if a recommended treatment has not worked.

Unfortunately, between April and November last year almost a third of patients cancelled or declined their specialist appointment.

This wastes precious NHS resources, both staff and clinic time, and increases the time that other patients who need to be seen urgently have to wait.

Most importantly, it means that patients who may have a serious illness such as cancer are not getting diagnosed as quickly as they should. They consequently start treatment later, which can affect how well they live after their cancer diagnosis.

It is really important for anyone referred for a suspected cancer to get checked out quickly to find out what’s wrong. Reassuringly, most people won’t have cancer but if they do, getting an urgent referral means that patients can get started quickly on treatment.

If you or any of your relatives are given one of these appointments, which we call a ‘Two Week Wait’ appointment, I urge you to attend. It could save your life.”

Patients who are unable to attend their appointment should cancel and arrange an alternative appointment as soon as possible.

They may require some further tests to help the specialist understand what is causing your symptoms, but will be informed about this in advance.

Thanks to improvements in diagnosing cancer earlier and innovative new treatments, more people are surviving cancer.

Cancer survival rates have doubled in the last 40 years; please help the NHS to continue this trend by attending your Two Week Wait appointment.