“BE CLEAR ON CANCER” URGE WALES COMMUNITY PHARMACIES
All 716 community pharmacies across Wales will take part in a lung cancer awareness campaign for a month between 11 July 2016 and 12 August 2016.
The Community Pharmacy “BE CLEAR ON CANCER” campaign is part of a wider campaign led by the NHS Wales Lung Cancer Initiative in partnership with the seven Welsh Health Boards, the Wales Cancer Network, Public Health Wales, Community Pharmacy Wales and third sector organisations including Tenovus Cancer Care.
Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in Wales and survival from lung cancer in Wales is almost the lowest in Europe at 28th out of 29 countries. Smokers and ex-smokers are at higher risk and 98% of people diagnosed in Wales are aged over 50. This new symptom awareness campaign is aiming to encourage earlier diagnosis and treatment for lung cancer. Community Pharmacy teams will be identifying people over 50 who have had a persistent cough for 3 weeks or more and advising them to visit their GP. Other early symptoms include breathlessness, coughing up blood and repeated chest infections. Pharmacies will inform people of the benefits of promptly telling their GP if they have any of these symptoms.
Russell Goodway, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy Wales said “Community pharmacies are ideally placed to run a campaign such as this. They are the most easily accessible healthcare provider in every community across Wales and so have the potential to make important contributions to health improvement and help tackle the higher than average levels of lung cancer which is most prevalent in more deprived areas.”
Recently published research, in the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice and based on a previous national community pharmacy public health campaign, has shown that community pharmacies are acceptable locations from which to deliver health improvement campaigns in terms of participant recruitment, ease of delivery, and pharmacy user feedback.
Professor John Watkins, a clinician working on the lung cancer campaign explains: “Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in Wales with
around 2,400 new cases each year. It can affect people of all ages, but it is most common in those aged over 50 who smoke, however a significant number of new cases each year occur in non smokers. Diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer at an early stage is crucial to increase the likelihood of success, yet, currently, only 20% of people diagnosed in Wales consult their doctor with symptoms at an early enough stage when the disease is potentially curable.”
Dr Nick Davies, a GP and ambassador for the lung cancer awareness campaign adds: “I often hear my patients say how they have delayed coming to see me because they didn’t think their symptom was serious or that they didn’t want to waste valuable GP time. The risk of developing lung cancer increases with age, so it’s important that people tell their GP if they have been coughing persistently for three weeks. Detecting cancer early could make it more treatable and could save your life.”
The ‘Be Clear on Cancer ‘lung cancer awareness campaign will be supported with TV, press, digital and bus advertising as well as leaflets and advice through pharmacies and GP surgeries. It will run across Wales for four weeks. For more information on the signs and symptoms of lung cancer visit go.nhs.wales/lungcancer. ESS RELEASE
One woman who knows better than most how important early diagnosis and treatment can be is 65 year old lung cancer patient, Jean Scull, from Abergavenny in Monmouthshire:
“I know first-hand the effects that lung cancer can have. I was first diagnosed with lung cancer in late 2013 and my advice hasn’t changed – if you’ve had a cough or felt breathless for more than three weeks get yourself checked out by
your GP as soon as you can. The chances are that it’s nothing serious. But it might still be something that needs attention and if diagnosed early, treatment can be a lot more successful.
“I was feeling out of breath and suffering from fatigue when I decided to see my GP. I was sent for an X-ray where it was discovered I had a partly collapsed left lung, my GP advised that in most cases the lung re-inflates itself but to be sure he arranged another X-ray for four weeks’ time.
“On the second X-ray my GP told me my left lung was now normal but they had found a small nodule on my right lung. Further tests confirmed that the nodule was most likely cancerous and needed treatment. I was referred to a specialist surgeon and once the cancer was confirmed I had an operation to remove the nodule and two thirds of my right lung in July 2013. Within eight days I was out of hospital, and after some final chemotherapy, I was on the road to recovery.
“I’m extremely relieved that my GP picked up the signs of cancer and started
the tests very early. Catching it early made a big difference and I am sure it saved my life. I advise anyone suffering from similar symptoms to visit their GP as soon as possible.”
The Case for Targeting Community Pharmacy-Led Health Improvement: Findings from a Skin Cancer Campaign in Wales. International Journal of Pharmacy Practice February 2016. Pearce, S., Evans, A., Phelps, C., Matthews, M., Hughes, G. and Lewis, I. (2016), The case for targeting community pharmacy-led health improvement: Findings from a skin cancer campaign in Wales. Int J Pharm Pract. doi:10.1111/ijpp.1225
Community Pharmacy Wales (CPW) is recognised in the National Health Services (Wales) Act 2006 and by the Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Health & Social Services as the only organisation responsible for representing all of the 714 community pharmacies in Wales on all matters relating to NHS community pharmacy services.
CPW is the only organisation that represents every community pharmacy in Wales. It works with Government and its agencies, such as local Health Boards, to help protect and develop high quality community pharmacy services and to shape the NHS community pharmacy contract and its associated regulations. In doing so, it aspires to achieve the highest standards of public health and the best possible patient outcomes.