When a GP sees a patient with symptoms that could indicate they have cancer, they are able to make an urgent referral for the patient to be seen by a specialist within two weeks. But less than half of all cancer patients are diagnosed through this urgent referral route, known as the two week wait and others are diagnosed in A&E or after a routine referral to a cancer specialist.

The purpose of the two week wait referral is to ensure patients are diagnosed as early as possible, to give them a better chance of survival. Some patients may be too unwell to wait two weeks for a first appointment. For others, their cancer symptoms aren’t always as clear.  When people see their GP with so-called ‘vague’ symptoms, such as abdominal pain and weight loss, it can be difficult to refer them to the most appropriate tests quickly. To cater for these patients and to further support early diagnosis, the ACE (Accelerate, Co-ordinate, Evaluate) programme has been set up. The ACE programme is jointly funded by Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and NHS England.

As part of the national ACE Programme, London Cancer is piloting two multidisciplinary diagnostic centres (MDC) at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) and Queen’s Hospital Romford.

These MDCs are designed to offer rapid diagnosis to patients with the following complaints:

  • Painless jaundice
  • Unexplained and proven weight loss
  • Vague abdominal symptoms
  • Second A&E visit with abdominal pain in one month

Download the patient information leaflet for the service at UCLH.

For general information about the MDC, please contact Donna Chung

Completed referral forms, or any patient-related queries, should be emailed to UCLH.GIMDC@nhs.net.