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Experience with a colorectal cancer campaign in Swiss pharmacies


Background Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide. Screening with several methods can accurately detect early-stage cancer and polyps and reduce colorectal cancer mortality in adults aged 50 to 75 years. Objective Test the feasibility, interest and potential impact of a colorectal cancer screening in Swiss community pharmacies. Setting 771 community pharmacies of Switzerland participated in a 6-week campaign. Method The pharmacists evaluated the risk factors through a questionnaire among individuals aged between 50 to 75 years old who did not have had a colonoscopy over the previous 10 years. Pharmacists delivered a Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) to those without risk. Patients with identified risk factors or with a positive result were referred to a physician. Patients with a negative result were given lifestyle advice and invited for a new screening in two years. Main outcome measure The impact was measured through the number of persons screened, of tests delivered and of referrals to a physician performed. Results Within 6 weeks, 23,024 persons were screened in pharmacies. In total, 760 patients (3%) had risk factors and were directly referred to physicians. The remaining 22,264 received a FIT, and 97% of these individuals performed and sent the FIT to the laboratory. Of the 21,701 tests analysed, 93% were negative. All individuals with positive results (7%) were referred to a physician. Conclusion Having the opportunity to take colorectal cancer prevention measures with a low threshold, like in a community pharmacy encourages the population to perform the screening.

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We would like to thank the many pharmacists and patients of Switzerland who took part in the screening programme, as well as CSS which covered the testing for some of their insured. We also would like to thank the members of the scientific board of the campaign. Thank you to Samuel Allemann and Luc Besançon for their review of the manuscript.


This study was partly funded through the “Qualitäts-und Forschungsfonds LOA IV”, a fund managed jointly by the two umbrella organisations for Swiss health insurance (santesuisse and Curafutura) and the Swiss association of pharmacists (pharmaSuisse).

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Correspondence to Martine Ruggli.

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Ruggli, M., Stebler, D., Gasteiger, M. et al. Experience with a colorectal cancer campaign in Swiss pharmacies. Int J Clin Pharm 41, 1359–1364 (2019).

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