Referral Guidance for Suspected Cancer

The Northern Ireland Guidance for Suspected Cancer reflects recommended best practice for the referral of patients with suspect cancer.  The guidance was developed by NICaN's Tumour Groups and Primary Care Group and builds on exisiting NICE guidance on referral of patients with suspect cancer.

The aim of the guidance is to:

  • To facilitate appropriate referral between primary & secondary care for patients whom a GP suspects may have cancer.

  • To improve cooperation & communication between general practice and the hospital sector.

  • To promote better quality and equitable care for people in Northern Ireland. 

Click here to download a copy of the guidance 2012


Review of the Northern Ireland Referral Guidance for Suspected Cancer will be undertaken following the publication of updated NICE Referral Guidelines (anticipated December 2010). NICaN will then engage with stakeholders to issue revised referral guidance. Future review will again be linked to NICE guideline revision.


If you have any feedback or comments on the guidance please address them to Dr E. O'Neill, Director of Primary Care, NICaN - email  


Raising awareness of the guidance

A number of measures have been taken to raise GP awareness of the guidance.

  • A letter was issued to all practices in May 2007 by the Service Delivery Unit.

  • Laminated copies of the guidance were issued to all GPs on the performers list via Boards during October and November 2007.

  • A total of seven information sessions were held across the region during October & November 2007 - 63% of the province's GP practices were represented at these events.

  • Board Family Practitioner Units agreed to make available practice based learning time to allow information about the guidance and use of red flags to be cascaded to the wider primary care team.

  • A further information session took place for Sessional Doctors on 4th March 2008.


Primary Care Resources


The development of these resources was supported by regional planning meetings with representation from all Trusts and Boards, Primary Care and NIMDTA.  The meeting papers can be downloaded below.