Role of community pharmacists in skin cancer screening: A descriptive study of skin cancer risk factors prevalence and photoprotection habits in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

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Sunscreening Agents, Skin Neoplasms, Early Detection of Cancer, Pharmacies, Pharmacists, Cross-Sectional Studies, Spain


Background: Skin cancer incidence is increasing alarmingly, despite current efforts trying to improve its early detection. Community pharmacists have proven success in implementing screening protocols for a number of diseases because of their skills and easy access.

Objective: To evaluate the prevalence of skin cancer risk factors and the photoprotection habits with a questionnaire in community pharmacy users.

Methods: A research group consisting of pharmacists and dermatologists conducted a descriptive cross-sectional study to assess photoprotection habits and skin cancer risk factors by using a validated questionnaire in 218 community pharmacies in Barcelona from May 23rd to June 13th 2016. All participants received health education on photoprotection and skin cancer prevention. Patients with ≥1 skin cancer risk factor were referred to their physician, as they needed further screening of skin cancer.

Results: A total of 5,530 participants were evaluated. Of those, only 20.2% participants had received a total body skin examination for skin cancer screening in the past by a physician and 57.1% reported using a SPF 50+ sunscreen. 53.9% participants presented ≥1 skin cancer risk factor: 11.8% participants reported having skin cancer familial history and 6.2% reported skin cancer personal history; pharmacists found ≥10 melanocytic nevi in 43.8% participants and chronically sun-damaged skin in 21.4%. Lesions suspicious for melanoma were reported in 10.9% of the participants and urgent dermatological evaluation was recommended.

Conclusions: Pharmacists can detect people with skin cancer risk factors amongst their users. This intervention can be considered in multidisciplinary strategies of skin cancer screening.

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