Suspected cancer: recognition and referral : guidance (NG12)

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence - NICE
Publication date:
23 June 2015


This guideline covers identifying children, young people and adults with symptoms that could be caused by cancer. It outlines appropriate investigations in primary care, and selection of people to refer for a specialist opinion. It aims to help people understand what to expect if they have symptoms that may suggest cancer.

In July 2017, recommendation 1.3.4 was replaced by NICE diagnostics guidance on quantitative faecal immunochemical tests to guide referral for colorectal cancer in primary care.


This guideline includes recommendations on the symptoms and signs that warrant investigation and referral for suspected cancer.

The recommendations are organised by:

The guideline includes recommendations on:

Who is it for?

  • Healthcare professionals
  • People involved in clinical governance in both primary and secondary care
  • People with suspected cancer and their families and/or carers

Guideline development process

How we develop NICE guidelines

This guideline updates and replaces NICE guideline CG27 (June 2005) and updates and replaces recommendations in NICE guideline CG121 (April 2011).