We investigated the impact on 95 community pharmacies of an educational package on awareness of oral cancer, which consisted of a training evening, pharmacy protocol, and information for patients. Results of a questionnaire and the experience of a mystery shopper before the intervention and 6 months later were used to evaluate its effectiveness. Before the intervention 29% of pharmacies advised “my 60-year-old friend who has had an ulcer in his mouth for 4 weeks” to see a doctor or a dentist. Afterwards this rose to 45% with advice being confined to seeing a doctor. There was also a substantial reduction in advice being given to buy a product. The questionnaire showed that although responses between the baseline and follow up were similar regarding health behaviours and signs and symptoms in relation to oral cancer, more (74–89%) thought that drinking alcohol, and less (46–36%) thought that passive smoking increased the risk of oral cancer. There was also an increase in the number who thought that burning sensations (42–57%), white patches (52–76%), red patches (57–76%), speckled patches (46–68%), and a persistent ulcer (82–91%) might be signs or symptoms of oral cancer. The intervention was well received, and changes in knowledge and practice were evident, but the study showed that there is potential for much greater awareness of oral cancer amongst pharmacists and their staff.
Rogers, S., Lowe, D., Catleugh, M., & Edwards, D. (2010). An oral cancer awareness intervention in community pharmacy. British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, 48(7), 498-502. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bjoms.2009.09.015