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Cancer types

This section focuses on the many cancers we treat and the range of care pathways.

Patients with a suspected cancer will follow a care pathway from referral to treatment. Each care pathway is unique but all pathways broadly follow this order:

  • Referral: Patients who live within the Belfast area will be referred to a Belfast Trust hospital for investigative tests. Patients who live in another area of Northern Ireland are normally referred to a hospital within their local Trust for further investigation. They may be referred to a Belfast Trust hospital at a later date.
  • Diagnostics: Diagnostics are routine tests to investigate a patient’s symptoms. These tests may include scans and images, biopsies of tissues and cells, and blood tests.
  • Multi-disciplinary team (MDT): Every patient suspected of having cancer is discussed by a multi-disciplinary team that specialises in treating cancer. The team will discuss why a patient has been referred, their medical history, the results of any tests and their treatment options.
  • Diagnosis: When all the necessary investigations have been completed, a diagnosis will be made. Patients will be told their diagnosis by a doctor at a results appointment. The doctor will also explain what happens next.
  • Decision to treat: When a diagnosis is confirmed, patients will sometimes be discussed again by the multi-disciplinary team to decide the best treatment plan. A doctor will agree this with the patient.
  • First definitive treatment: When a patient has given their consent, a treatment date will be arranged and the patient informed as soon as possible. Patients may have a combination of treatments depending on their cancer.
  • Follow-up appointments: These appointments allow us to check the progress of your recovery. They are also an opportunity for you to discuss any concerns you may have.