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Referral to hospital

This page is about what to expect if you have been referred to King’s College Hospital because your GP thinks you may have cancer. For a lot of people we see, tests show that their symptoms are caused by something other than cancer. But it is important to get checked out as soon as possible.

You will have an appointment with a specialist within two weeks of your referral to us.

There is a different referrals process for children and young people. If they are referred here, they will be cared for at the Variety Children’s Hospital @ King’s.

If you are a referrer, please see our cancer page for referrers.

How to get here

We work in partnership as part of South East London Cancer Alliance (SELCA). This means you may be seen at a hospital closer to home for some or all of your care.

When you book your appointments, we will tell you which hospital to come to. Please visit the relevant hospital website below for information about directions and getting around:

What happens at your first appointment

Most patients are seen first in an outpatient clinic by a physician or a surgeon. You may also meet your key worker, who is usually the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) for the cancer type you are having tests for. Your CNS is an experienced nurse who is able to provide expert advice related to your specific condition or treatment. They will take a key role in supporting your care and will be the central point of contact between yourself and the multidisciplinary team (MDT) treating you.

These clinics can be busy and you may have to wait for your appointment. The consultation itself can last between 45 minutes and 2 hours.

You may have some tests and scans on the same day. At your consultation, your symptoms and possible treatments will be discussed with you and you will be given some information to take home to read.

The cancer types section has more information about tests and treatments.

Preparing for your appointment

What to bring to your appointment

  • Your appointment letter.
  • A list of medications you are taking, including medicines you have been prescribed by your doctor or other specialist together with any alternative or herbal remedies and anything you have bought over the counter
  • A written list of questions you would like to ask
  • Consider asking a relative or friend to come with you. They can help support you, and help you understand and remember the information we give you.

What to wear

  • You may need an examination, so we advise women to wear something simple to slip off, such as trousers or a skirt, rather than a dress
  • A member of staff of the same sex will remain with you if you need an intimate examination.