TM teams up with Pancreatic Cancer Action

Training Matters is delighted to announce Pancreatic Cancer Action as the official charity partner for the Recognition of Excellence Awards 2017.

Commenting on the partnership, Natasha North, the charity’s marketing and communications manager, says: “We’re thrilled to have been selected as the charity partner for this fantastic event, which will recognise some of the most hardworking people in the pharmacy industry.

“The awards will also be a valuable way to spread awareness about pancreatic cancer, and make sure more people know the signs and symptoms and what to look out for.”

A devastating disease

Pancreatic cancer is the tenth most common cancer in the UK and has the worst survival rate of all 22 common cancers. Currently the five-year survival rate is only five per cent and the figure hasn’t improved significantly in almost 50 years. However, patients who are diagnosed in time for surgery do considerably better and have a 30 per cent chance of surviving beyond five years after diagnosis, highlighting the need for early diagnosis.

Pharmacy's role

Pancreatic Cancer Action’s patron, Dr Hilary Jones told TM that pharmacy staff have a huge opportunity to help raise awareness of the condition and encourage people to get suspect symptoms checked out as soon as possible. “Just like GPs, people who work in pharmacies see the same customer over a period of time and sometimes they can see changes in people,” he says.

“So if someone complains of back ache, particularly if it’s fairly high back ache that’s a bit unusual, it’s not like the low back ache which is more common, if they say I’ve got back ache but it also comes round to the front, then that’s a little bit suspicious, there’s not many things that do that,” Dr Hilary continues.

Dr Hilary Jones talks to TM's Helena Beer about pharmacy's role in raising awareness of pancreatic cancer

Pharmacy staff can then ask questions to ascertain whether further investigation is necessary. Dr Hilary says: “Ask ‘what’s your appetite like? Are you losing weight? Do you know why?’ and if they don’t know why, and their appetite has gone and they’ve got this pain, they could ask ‘have you noticed any change in your bowel habit? Any change in the colour of the urine? Are the whites of your eyes a little bit yellow?’”

If the answer is yes, “that’s a great opportunity for someone working in community pharmacy to say ‘I really think you should urgently go and see your doctor, just to be on the safe side,’” Dr Hilary adds. “And there is a way of doing that without causing panic and fear, but it’s all about getting them seen quickly.”

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