Publication - Advice and guidance

Scottish referral guidelines for suspected cancer

Published: 22 Jan 2019

Guidelines to support primary care clinicians in identifying patients who are most likely to have cancer and therefore require urgent assessment by a specialist. Equally, they help in identifying patients who are unlikely to have cancer, embedding safety netting as a diagnostic support tool.

Scottish referral guidelines for suspected cancer


  1. Based on total Scottish population of 5,404,700 as at 30 June 2016: National Records of Scotland mid 2016 population estimates Scotland, Scottish Cancer Registry, Information Services Division (ISD), April 2018, GP Workforce & Practise Populations
  2. Beating Cancer: Ambition and Action
  3. NICE Guideline [NG12] Suspected cancer: recognition and referral (June 2015 last updated July 2017)
  4. Practising Realistic Medicine
  5. Cancer Research UK: Your Urgent Referral Explained
  6. Statistics on Preventable Cancers
  7. Clinical relevance of thrombocytosis in primary care: Br J Gen Pract 2017; 67 (659): e405-e413. DOI:
  8. Cancer Working Group of the Scottish Clinical Biochemistry Managed Diagnostic Network
  9. HIS Familial Breast Cancer Report
  10. SIGN 126 - Diagnosis and management of colorectal cancer
  11. Cancer Incidence Report In Scotland (2016)
  12. Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme – Summary Card
  13. SIGN 135 Management of epithelial ovarian cancer
  14. Grace Kelly Ladybird
  15. Headsmart
  16. Scottish Palliative Care Guidelines


Email: Cancer Access Team