The initiative to introduce an “army” of pharmacists into GP practices has been welcomed by Pancreatic Cancer Action, a charity which exists to save lives through early diagnosis of one of the UK’s deadliest cancers.
Leading health professionals from Royal College of General Practice (RCGP) and Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), said the plan would see pharmacists providing health advice and being able to prescribe medication with additional training.
Around 8,800 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK each year, making it the 11th most common cancer. They will be faced with a shockingly low three per cent chance of survival and an average life expectancy of just three to six months.
Pancreatic cancer is typically diagnosed at a late stage because it doesn’t cause symptoms until it’s too late. Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include persistent, new onset upper abdominal or upper back pain; jaundice; indigestion not responding to medication; pale and smelly stools that don’t flush easily and unexplained weight loss.
Ali Stunt, Chief Executive of Pancreatic Cancer Action, and a rare survivor of pancreatic cancer, said about the initiative: “This is would be a very positive step for easing the pressure on GP practices and help attribute to early diagnosis.
“The biggest problem with the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is that there is no one clear indicator of the illness. There are, however, clusters of symptoms in the early stages that should raise alarm bells.
“By introducing pharmacists into GP practices, this will be an additional route to diagnosis and contribute to improving survival rates for this grim disease. I am survivor myself and am determined more people will have the same lucky outcome as I did.”
Ali was diagnosed in August 2007, and set up the Pancreatic Cancer Action charity in 2011 to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer so more people are diagnosed in time for surgery.
Pancreatic Cancer Action advise anyone who experiences the symptoms mentioned above, which are not normal for them, to speak to their GP or call 111.
For more information, please visit www.pancreaticcanceraction.org or call 0303 040 1770.