British Oncology Pharmacy Association (BOPA)

Let’s Communicate Cancer e-learning

The mission of the British Oncology Pharmacy Association (BOPA) is to promote excellence in the pharmaceutical care of patients with cancer. It works through education, communication, research and innovation, supporting its members with access to courses, forums, resources and events. Their free-to-access Let’s Communicate Cancer e-learning programme was developed for the whole pharmacy team. It provides staff with an understanding of the signs and symptoms of cancer, the lifestyle factors that influence the risk of developing cancer, cancer treatments and appropriate referrals for patients with suspected or confirmed malignancy.  The programme is presented as bite-sized sections, with videos, animation, quizzes, slide shows and links to external sources of further information. The e-learning gives members of the pharmacy team the knowledge and confidence to support cancer patients – from early diagnosis and through treatment. Financial support for the development of the course was provided by Pfizer Limited as a Medical and Educational Goods and Service.

The Role of Community Pharmacy in Recognising and Referring Patients with Cancer Symptoms

Early diagnosis of disease remains the most significant factor underpinning the likelihood of successful treatment outcomes. NHS England has committed to an ambitious target of identifying 75% of all new diagnoses at stage 1 or 2 by 2026. In order to meet this target, NHS England has recognised the potential of community pharmacy as a venue to identify opportunistic presentations of patients with symptoms of potential cancers. In June 2022 a national pilot project was commissioned to undertake further research into the viability of a direct referral pathway from community pharmacy, helping to streamline the cancer referral process and improve detection of cancers outside of traditional models of care. Parallel to this work, BOPA and HEE have worked in collaboration to embed the “Lets Communicate Cancer” programme within the upcoming community pharmacy contractual framework for 2023/24 for providers in across England. This is a significant step in promoting this training programme amongst community pharmacy professionals and will help to support implementation of a direct referral pathway, pending the result of the ongoing NHS England pilot..

Smoking is the most significant preventable cause of cancer

Maintaining a healthy weight can lower your risk of some cancers

People need to be alert to the early signs of cancer

How and why RSPH accredited the course

The RSPH review of this course found that it meets its learning objectives, provides an excellent range of high quality resources and there are systems in place to monitor feedback from learners and keep the programme up to date. In particular, the course covers the work and experiences of the whole pharmacy team. The course videos are set in the pharmacy and the case studies show realistic scenarios which trainees might face when they try to assist patients. Especially notable is the training to recognise the “red flags” - the situations when pharmacy staff should refer patients to other sources of advice, either within the pharmacy or externally.