Referral to a specialist

Your GP should arrange for you to see a specialist if you have symptoms that could be due to vaginal cancer. Depending on your symptoms and other factors, this might be an urgent referral.

Vaginal cancer is rare, it is more common in women who no longer have periods (post-menopausal).

Seeing your GP

It can be hard for GPs to decide who may have cancer and who might have a more minor condition. For some symptoms, your doctor may ask you to wait to see if the symptoms get better or respond to treatment, such as antibiotics.

UK referral guidelines

There are guidelines for GPs to help them decide who needs a referral.

Some of the UK nations have targets around how quickly you’ll be seen. In England an urgent referral means that you should see a specialist within 2 weeks.

This 2 week time frame is not part of the waiting times for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But wherever you live, you are seen as quickly as possible. Ask your GP when you are likely to get an appointment.

Urgent referral

You should have an urgent referral to a specialist if you have a lump in the vagina or at the entrance to your vagina.

The specialist will want to examine you and arrange several tests.

Who you will see?

Your specialist is part of the multidisciplinary team (MDT). This is a team of health professionals who work together to decide on the best way to manage your care. The MDT can include:

  • specialist gynaecology doctors (gynaecologist) Open a glossary item
  • doctors who specialise in chemotherapy (medical oncologists)
  • doctors who specialise in radiotherapy (clinical oncologists)
  • doctors who specialise in reading x-rays and scans (radiologists)
  • specialist nurses
  • physiotherapists
  • occupational therapists
  • doctors who make a diagnosis from tissue specimens (histopathologists)

If you are still worried

You could make another appointment with your GP if you are concerned they are not taking your symptoms seriously. And you should see your GP again if you continue to have symptoms.

You could print this page and ask your GP to talk it through with you. Then you might be able to decide together whether you need to see a specialist.

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