LloydsPharmacy parent company Celesio UK is working with Greater Manchester cancer vanguard innovation to help patients spot signs of cancer earlier.
Jill Pritchard, head of pharmacy services at Celesio UK, said that ‘spotting cancer early can determine whether or not treatment will be successful’.
‘Too many people diagnosed late’
He said: ‘Far too many people are diagnosed late, which can significantly impact their treatment prospects.
‘We want to tackle some of the barriers that stop people speaking to healthcare professionals about cancer.
‘It can be a scary subject and patients will often try to put any warning signs to the back of their mind’.
Greater Manchester has a high percentage of patients whose cancer is detected only at later stages, ‘when patients’ prospects are poorer and treatment options more limited,’ said the vanguard.
Only 49% of cancers are diagnosed at stage 1 or 2, which is below the 51% average in England, according to Public Health England (PHE).
Mr Pritchard said: ‘Most of the time, symptoms aren’t necessarily indicative of the presence of cancer, but getting tested can give patients peace of mind and also increase their awareness of the risks.
‘If we can make just one life changing intervention through this pilot, it will be worthwhile.’
Working with community pharmacy
The project, which is being piloted in two LloydsPharmacy branches, has an online tool that allows patients to self-check for symptoms.
Pharmacists can then help them in a face-to-face consultation through the Risk Estimation for Additional Cancer Testing (REACT) questionnaire that gives an estimate of the risk of having cancer.
High-risk scores are transferred to a GP, who will conduct further investigation, to help improve early diagnosis of the condition.
Professor Ken Muir, professor of epidemiology at the University of Manchester who leads the project, said: ‘One of the ways we can improve rates of early diagnosis is by encouraging people to engage with the health services much sooner.
‘We’re very excited by the potential of the questionnaire and this partnership allows us to bring it right into the heart of the community.’
The project is part of the Lloydspharmacy Healthcare Centres service that serve as an alternative to hospital admissions and bring care closer to home.