Pharmacy sign

High street pharmacies to diagnose cancer early in new NHS initiative

Pharmacy staff will now be tasked with spotting early signs of cancer as part of a new initiative announced today by the NHS.

The project will be trialled at sites up and down the country and will seek to give high street pharmacies the tools to flag early signs of cancer, in order to give the person a bigger chance of a better health outcome.

The new initiative includes mobile liver scan units as well as a targeted genetic testing programme, all in aid of working towards the NHS Long Term Plan commitment to increasing the proportion of cancers caught early from half to three in four.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Ensuring patients can access diagnosis and treatment easily in their communities and on high streets is a fundamental part of our 10-Year Cancer Plan.

“Harnessing ground-breaking innovations such as this will save lives and help us achieve our ambition of being the best place in Europe for cancer care.

“This will also build on the progress we are making to tackle the Covid backlog, already delivering over one million additional scans through over 90 new community diagnostic centres and halving the number of people on the longest waiting lists in the last four months.”

From this month onwards, the aforementioned roaming liver scan trucks will be offering and delivering scans and check-ups to those most at risk of cancer.

The launch of a new genetic testing is also expected to follow, which will look for BRCA mutations in those from Jewish heritage, who are ten times more likely to be affected by mutations than those in the general population.

This is all a combined effort in the NHS to diagnose and thus treat all mutations, diseases and ailments earlier than ever before.

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “We’re pleased to see investment in innovative models of care, such as referrals from community pharmacy teams and mobile scanners. By changing the way people engage with the health service, we have the potential to help diagnose more cancers at an earlier, more treatable stage. We look forward to seeing how these efforts will support the NHS’s ambitious early diagnosis targets.”

This is the latest update in a series of world-leading innovations that are actively targeting people in an attempt to find and treat conditions early, including cancer awareness campaigns and NHS community diagnostic centres.

More information about the new initiative is available here.

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