New guidance on best practice for pharmacists when advising on suspected, or diagnosed, bowel cancer has been prepared by the national charity Beating Bowel Cancer and supported by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. The guidance for pharmacists, which will be distributed with the 19 May edition of the PJ, is part of a broader campaign, spearheaded by Beating Bowel Cancer, which aims to raise awareness of the disease amongst primary healthcare professionals.

The new campaign is being piloted in 11 PCT’s across England. Part of the initiative is to provide pharmacy staff and their customers with important information on symptoms to look out for, and encouraging customers to seek further support if they are concerned. Community pharmacies will be displaying eye-catching ‘toilet door’ posters and leaflets in a bid to increase awareness of bowel cancer, the UK’s second biggest cancer killer.

Bowel cancer affects one in 18 people during their lifetime, and is the second biggest cause of cancer deaths in the UK. It affects men and women equally and can strike at any age. If the disease is caught and treated in time up to 90% of these lives could be saved.

“Early diagnosis of bowel cancer is essential to ensure a positive outcome for patients,” said Hilary Whittaker, Chief Executive of Beating Bowel Cancer. “We need to make people aware of this huge disease and, with six million people visiting UK pharmacies every day, the pharmacy environment is ideal for an awareness campaign as it has such wide reach. We hope that it will encourage people to get any symptoms investigated, and not to ‘hide them behind closed doors’.”

Paul Gimson, Lead Pharmacist for Long Term Care at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, commented: “The role of community pharmacists in raising awareness of particular health issues is becoming more widely recognised. We are pleased to work with Beating Bowel Cancer on this initiative to provide pharmacists with information which will help them to identify the symptoms of bowel cancer and advise the general public accordingly. This work further highlights the valuable role that community pharmacy has to play in improving public health.”

The guidance document will be available on the Society’s website . It will also be available from Antoan Smith website via


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