Co-operation and collaboration

50,000 people are diagnosed with a urological cancer in the UK each year. Together prostate, bladder, kidney, testicular and penile cancers make-up one in three of all cancers in men, and one in five of all cancers in men and women.

Taboo often means people ignore symptoms, such as blood in their pee, and discourages screening checks like testicular self-examination and getting a prostate blood test (PSA) from their GP. However urological cancers can usually be cured if they are detected in the early stages.

UCAN, a Urological CANcer charity, was set-up in Aberdeen in 2006 to raise awareness of urological cancers and improve support and quality of life for people who are affected and their families.

UCAN was instrumental in establishing the first robotic surgery center in Scotland at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary but UCAN’s impact on patient care goes far deeper than this state-of-the-art surgical instrument. The UCAN model has been recognised internationally by the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand and by the European Association of Urology (EAU) for delivering world-beating holistic care; and recommended this model should be rolled-out world-wide.

UCAN provides health-promotion events and patient support-groups across the North- east of Scotland. The UCAN care centre provides a friendly, welcoming environment in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, enabling it to directly augment NHS patients’ care. UCAN offers rapid access to experienced doctors and nurse specialists who provide holistic care and support for patients and their partner and families. Patients can also browse educational material, access accredited websites, relax over a cup of coffee and share with others in a similar position.

UCAN-funded research evaluates technologies and procedures for the diagnosis and treatment of urological cancers. These studies help improve the care delivered in the North- east of Scotland and also informs patients’ decision making.

UCAN is a charity and is run like any business: but with helping patients rather than making money as the common goal. Co-operation is at the heart of UCAN: patient focused groups help guide what UCAN should do, experienced businessmen and clinicians give their time freely to manage the charity together, and UCAN works ‘hand-in-hand’ with NHS Grampian.

A diagnosis of cancer is something nobody wants or expects and is a life-changing moment. In the days and weeks after receiving this diagnosis, patients and their relatives typically have many concerns: big and small. UCAN provides the right environment, time and expertise to answer questions and address concerns when they arise, by offering a drop-in service for patients and their relatives throughout their cancer journey.

Thanks to generous donations and fund-raising activities, UCAN is an incredible resource for patients and families in the North-east of Scotland, empowering anyone affected by urological cancer. However, 18,000 people die from urological cancers each year in the UK and this figure is rising. UCAN recognises that much more needs to be done and can only continue its work thanks to generous donations from both individuals and organisations.

James Donaldson

James Donaldson