Don’t Hide Cancer Symptoms Behind Closed Doors

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Community pharmacies in Manchester 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.

The new campaign, produced by the national charity Beating Bowel Cancer, is being rolled out in ten Primary Care Trustsi across England, and provides pharmacy staff and their customers with important information on symptoms to look out for and encourages them to seek further support from their GP if they are concerned. Research carried out during the ‘Closed Doors’ campaign pilotii showed that 93% of pharmacists felt in a better position to advise their customers and direct them to their GP if at all concerned, having received the campaign information materials.


Bowel cancer affects 1 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. Whilst it is shocking that 50 people are dying every day from this disease, if bowel cancer 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, Beating Bowel Cancer. “We need to make people aware of this huge disease and, with 6 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’.”

Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham KBE, former Patron of Beating Bowel Cancer and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, showed his support for the campaign, saying “In my practising role as a colorectal surgeon, at least 3 bowel cancer patients I have seen in the last year came to be diagnosed due to pharmacists directing them to their GP for further investigation of symptoms. This really highlights the importance of Beating Bowel Cancer’s campaign and the role that community pharmacists can take in the diagnosis of patients.”

Dr Sally Bradley, Director of Public Health for NHS Manchester continued, “We are pleased to work with Beating Bowel Cancer on this initiative to provide pharmacists with educational information which will in turn help them to advise the general public on bowel cancer symptoms and treatment.”