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Pharmacists are vital in improving pancreatic cancer survival rates

According to statistics from a recent survey, awareness of pancreatic cancer is low among the whole of the UK with only 8% of the population knowing a lot about the disease.
Every year there are around 9263 deaths from pancreatic cancer in the UK which could be prevented if awareness of the signs and symptoms was higher. The 5-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is just 7% as it can only be cured if it is diagnosed in time for surgery. After surgery, survival rates increase to 30%.
To tackle this issue, Pancreatic Cancer Action (PCA) are launching their first multi-targeted awareness initiative awareness amongst the general public, pharmacy teams and GPs to ensure as many people are aware of pancreatic cancer as possible.
To increase early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, a multi-pronged approach is required. Increasing awareness and overcoming barriers to diagnosis in the public, will not be effective without corresponding increases in healthcare professionals.
Engaging with the whole population and healthcare professionals is an important step in creating equal access healthcare and an effective, efficient diagnostic pathway.
PCA are providing Pharmacies with free resource packs which will aid healthcare professionals with the diagnosis and management of patients with pancreatic cancer. The resource packs also include access to Pancreatic Cancer Action’s NPA accredited e-learning module which aim to educate and refresh professionals knowledge on the disease.
Pharmacists and their teams are well placed to identify key signs of pancreatic cancer, both through customer interaction and medicines prescribes or brought over the counter. They can therefore play a crucial role in aiding early diagnosis, which can significantly improve a patient’s chance of survival.
Ade Williams, Pharmacist and PCA Ambassador says, “I am so pleased to see the significant increases in the uptake of the pharmacy e-learning module across the UK. Now with more community pharmacy teams engaging, we are set to play a vital role in the fight against pancreatic cancer.
There are 1.6 million visits to a community pharmacy every day. That adds up to 14 visits per person per year. I like to view that as 14 opportunities to make a contact that counts in improving their health and wellbeing, alleviating concerns or referring them on for more urgent treatment.”
Ali Stunt, Founder and CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Action says, “As someone who has had the fortune to be diagnosed early, we need to make sure other people can have the same outcome.”
“Healthcare professionals are well placed to spot the signs and symptoms of the disease and aid early diagnosis so I would encourage them to take our free module to refresh their knowledge.”
As a small charity we have concentrated our efforts in small regions of the UK as funds have allowed. However, our ambition is to help us get this campaign to all corners of the UK.”
By ensuring that more people are aware of the disease, the symptoms and their risk, we can help change the story for pancreatic cancer. It is not ‘the silent killer’, as it has been dubbed, and going to the GP with symptoms early can help more patients to be diagnosed in time for surgery and potentially save their lives.”

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