the strong rapport between pharmacist and patient, pharmacists can use this
relationship to their advantage in educating both healthy and sick individuals on
the symptoms of breast cancer. Pharmacists have the first opportunity in
promoting the early detection and prevention of breast cancer among the community.
Upon researching this issue, an article with the title ‘Breast Cancer Awareness and Prevention
Behaviour among Women of Delhi, India: Identifying Barriers to Early Detection’
revealed that breast cancer has become the primary cause of mortality in women.
In this article, focus group discussions were conducted with the help of women
who sought to participate in a breast cancer awareness workshop. The women were
asked questions and their answers were recorded and analysed in three major
themes; 1) awareness and perception on breast cancer; 2) barriers faced by
women in the early detection of breast cancer; and 3) healthcare seeking
behaviour. The findings revealed that shyness and fear were the major
behavioural barriers in the early detection of breast cancer. 1
The article finds
that many individuals lack knowledge on the symptoms of breast cancer. 1 Despite
the study being held in Delhi, India, this issue is widespread wax in the UK. So,
this is where a pharmacist’s role comes into play.
As mentioned in the
article, one of the major factors as to why people hesitate to visit a doctor
or get checked for breast cancer is shyness. 1 A solution to this issue would
be that female pharmacists encourage their female patients to get checked and educate
them on how to test for breast cancer and the same would be done for male patients
with the help of male pharmacists.
Another factor is
lack of symptom awareness. 1 There is a misconception that breast pain and
lumps in the breast are indicators of breast cancer, however most individuals
are unaware that a change in the shape or size of the breast, discharge from
the nipple and swelling in the armpit or around the collar bone are all
symptoms of breast cancer. 2 Due to the strong relationship pharmacists hold
with their patients, pharmacists can work alongside GP practices to raise
awareness on breast cancer symptoms. The most suitable way this could be done
is to organise workshops to help demonstrate how to test for breast cancer as
well as informing individuals on breast cancer symptoms.
As pharmacists are
one of the most accessible healthcare professionals, simple cancer-screening measures conducted within
the pharmacy could have an impact on improving patient involvement in
cancer-screening programmes. 3 Pharmacists may also
start a campaign alongside the NHS where pamphlets are handed out and posters are
put up in pharmacies containing crucial information on breast cancer that the
average individual is likely to be unaware of.
Based on the previous research,
I believe that pharmacists could play a crucial role in educating the community
on breast cancer. Pharmacists should take more responsibility in doing so as
this will greatly reduce the level of ignorance that the community holds with
regards to this issue.