Widening the scope for early cancer detection: identification of alarm symptoms by community pharmacies
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Background Cancers are one of the leading causes of death in the world and, due to the aging population, incidence rates are set to rise. As such, considerable effort has been placed on initiatives that aid the early detection of cancer, as this may improve patient survival outcome. One such initiative is the development of guidelines that explain how and when patient reported alarm symptoms suggestive of an underlying malignancy should be referred to a specialist. However, despite being conveniently placed to deliver interventions to promote the early detection of cancer, it is not clear what role community pharmacists could have in the development and implementation of these guidelines. Objective To: (1) assess the frequency and mean of patient reported alarm symptoms in a community pharmacy setting; (2) determine the demographics of patients presenting with the alarm symptom; and (3) explore the relationship between deprivation index of the community pharmacy and average frequency of alarm symptoms per pharmacy. Setting Thirty-three community pharmacies in the North of England. Method A prospective study from September 2013 to February 2014. Each community pharmacy team was provided training in relation to alarm symptoms to ensure there was consistency in reporting. Deprivation tertiles for each community pharmacy were calculated using the IMD 2010 deprivation index. The data were analysed using a Kruskal–Wallis test in order to determine whether there were any statistically significant associations between average frequency of alarm symptoms presented per pharmacy and the deprivation tertile. Main outcome measure Frequency of patient reported alarm symptoms.
KeywordsAlarm symptoms Community pharmacy Early cancer detection United Kingdom
This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Conflicts of interest
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