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Your first appointment

How to prepare for your appointment


This page explains why you have been referred to the hospital and provides information about your first appointment with us. Your GP will refer you using the NHS e-Referral Service (e-RS). This means that you may receive calls and need to be available at short notice.

Why have I been referred to hospital?

You have been referred because your symptoms need further tests. It is important that these tests happen quickly so we can diagnose you and start treatment (if needed) as soon as possible.

Does this mean I have cancer?

No, there are many common conditions that symptoms could be linked to, including the possibility of cancer. Nine out of 10 people referred to the hospital do not have cancer.

Why do I need to be seen quickly?

Although it is most likely that you do not have cancer, it is important we carry out the necessary assessments and tests as quickly as possible. This is done to reassure most of those referred, but also to quickly diagnose and start treatment on the small number that do have cancer.

It is important that you attend all the appointments we offer you to ensure there are no delays.

  • How many appointments will I need?

    It is difficult to say how many appointments you will need to attend, however we suggest you plan to be available for the next two months. If you have an emergency and cannot keep your appointment, please let us know as soon as possible by calling 020 7188 0902 so that we can rearrange your appointment.

    Some patients will go straight for tests and investigations. You should receive instructions prior to your appointment. Please follow the instructions carefully otherwise it can lead to tests and investigations being delayed or cancelled. If you are unclear, please call 020 7188 0902.

  • What happens at my first appointment?

    Most patients are first seen in an outpatient clinic by a physician or a surgeon. 

    These clinics can be very busy and you may have to wait for your appointment. We recommend that you allow an entire morning or afternoon, depending on your appointment time, in case tests are needed.

    You may have some tests and scans on the same day depending on the clinics. If you need to prepare for same day investigations, the relevant information will be sent to you with your appointment letter. It is very important to read and follow any instructions. Failure to do this can result in tests being cancelled which will delay diagnosis and treatment.

    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.

  • Who to bring

    Please feel free to bring a friend, relative or carer with you, but no more than two as clinic rooms can be limited in size.

  • Interpreters

    Nurse and volunteer at the Guy's Cancer Centre.

    It is the Trust’s policy not to use family members to translate information during consultations. If you would prefer to be given information in your own language, please call 020 7188 0902.

  • What to bring

    • Your appointment letter.
    • A list of medications you are taking, including medicines you have been prescribed by your GP or other specialist, together with any alternative or herbal remedies and anything you have bought over the counter.
    • Something to occupy you while you are waiting.
    • A written list of questions (Word 126Kb) you would like to ask.

    Unfortunately, thieves can target hospitals. Please do not bring valuables or large sums of money to the hospital. Always be aware of where your possessions are.

  • What to wear

    • You may need an examination, so we advise you 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.
  • Eating and drinking

    Please do not eat or drink before your appointment if you have been asked not to do so, as this may result in us having to cancel your appointment. If you are not sure whether you can eat or drink, please call and check.

  • Practical, emotional and psychological support

    We realise this is a difficult time. If you have any concerns or worries, please call 020 7188 0902, Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm.

    If you feel you need some support, we provide a range of practical and emotional support. Our Dimbleby Cancer Centre provides support and information for patients.

    Handy hints

    • Think about arranging transport, time off work or childcare for the day of your appointments.
    • Make sure you know where you are going.
    • Bring a pen and paper to take notes.
    • Try to bring a friend or family member with you.
    • Allow extra time in case it takes longer than expected.
    • Make sure your mobile phone is charged.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask questions (Word 126Kb).

Information leaflets for patients

We produce a range of information leaflets for cancer patients.

Tests and investigations

Find out about the tests and investigations you may have.

Our services

What to expect if you are referred to our: