Media Releases

Oncology for pharmacists: A person-centred approach to caring for people living with cancer

March 8, 2016

Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, in collaboration with Cancer Care Ontario, Launches New Oncology Program for Pharmacists

Toronto, ON – The Office of Continuous Professional Development at the University of Toronto’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, in collaboration with Cancer Care Ontario, is introducing the first comprehensive program in the province for pharmacists focused on caring for people living with cancer. The new program is designed to help practicing pharmacists acquire knowledge, develop skills, and become more comfortable in caring for cancer patients.

A recent Canadian study revealed that only 13 per cent of pharmacists in community settings feel adequately prepared to provide care to their cancer patients. As a result, pharmacists are seeking out additional training in this area, including the latest oncology information, tools, and best practices to deliver quality care, ensure patient safety, and enhance health outcomes.

“With the increase in people living with cancer and the advances in available cancer treatments, this program will offer pharmacists critical knowledge that is increasingly becoming part of their day-to-day practice,” says Dr. Kathy Vu, Clinical Lead of Systemic and Safety Treatment Initiatives at Cancer Care Ontario and Academic Director, Oncology for Pharmacists Program, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy.

Oncology for Pharmacists: A Person-Centred Approach to Caring for People Living with Cancer is intended to help pharmacists from all practice settings learn the latest information and best practices in cancer treatment to deliver better care and improve outcomes for cancer patients. Developed by leading experts in the field, this intensive program combines in-class and online learning opportunities to provide participants with a wide range of practical tips and tools to offer safe and high-quality care to patients undergoing cancer treatment.

The first component of this program, Essentials of Oncology for Pharmacists, will be offered in April 2016 as an online course. Ideal for community pharmacists and practitioners new to oncology, this foundational course forms the basis for the rest of the Oncology for Pharmacists program. This course introduces participants to key topics that are required to care for cancer patients in a holistic manner, including the pharmacology and safe handling of anticancer agents, management of common toxicities, chemotherapy prescription review, basics of cancer pain management, adherence, common drug interactions, complementary medicine patients may be exploring, palliative care, and an introduction to chemotherapy use, among many others. Presented as a self-paced series of online learning modules, the Essentials of Oncology for Pharmacists program also includes the opportunity to participate in a discussion board with others in the program, allowing participants to build a network of peers and resources to aid in their practice.

At the end of the course, participants will receive a certificate of completion and will be ready to continue their educational journey in oncology.

The second component of this program, Advanced Oncology for Pharmacists, consists of two parts and builds on the skills and knowledge acquired in the Essentials of Oncology for Pharmacists program, providing an in-depth approach to caring for patients with cancer. This module is ideal for graduates of the Essentials module and pharmacists who have some experience in providing care to cancer patients and have an interest in advancing their cancer care knowledge.

Delivered online, the topics covered in Part 1 of Advanced Oncology for Pharmacists include advanced cancer pain management, febrile neutropenia, chemotherapy order review, oncologic emergencies, advanced complementary medicines, patient teaching and education, chemotherapy and targeted therapies, and caring for a cancer patient with comorbidities.

Topics covered in Part 2 of Advanced Oncology for Pharmacists, which is delivered as an in-person workshop, include the latest information on specific cancers such as breast cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, prostate and bladder cancers, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, lymphomas, and multiple myeloma. Using a combination of didactic and case-based discussions, this program will allow participants to consolidate knowledge acquired from Essentials of Oncology and Advanced Oncology Part 1, apply best practice approaches, and make evidence-based recommendations when caring for cancer patients.

“As patients’ healthcare needs become increasingly complex, it’s important for pharmacists to enhance their ability to provide care to patients with cancer and their families,” notes Dr. Heather Boon, Dean of the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto. “The new Oncology for Pharmacists program addresses the need that exists for specialized training in the care of people living with cancer, and provides pharmacists with real world examples and skills to ensure their patients receive the best possible care.”

“Offering appropriate training in oncology care to healthcare providers across the province is an important component of our Ontario Cancer Plan,“ says Dr. Robin McLeod, Vice President of Clinical Programs & Quality Initiatives at Cancer Care Ontario. “We are pleased to support this program to provide standardized continuing education to pharmacists delivering care to patients with cancer.”

Developed and delivered by today’s leading oncology specialists, the Oncology for Pharmacists: A Person-Centred Approach to Caring for People Living with Cancer program will provide practicing pharmacists with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to provide safe and optimal care for patients with cancer.

For more information about the Oncology for Pharmacists: A Person-Centred Approach to Caring for People Living with Cancer program at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, including program start dates and registration information, please visit


 For more information, please contact:

Jef Ekins
Manager, Marketing & Communications
Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
University of Toronto
Tel: 416-946-7036