Some doctors are born into medical families; some feel a “calling.” Jyoti Shah felt the latter. A second generation Gujarati, both her comprehensive school and her family had never produced a doctor. Today Jyoti is a Macmillan Consultant Urological Surgeon at Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Why Jyoti focussed on urology
Jyoti explains, “I knew early on that surgery was the career choice for me – I liked to do something definitive to make people better. Urology has a range of open and keyhole operations, and treatments for patients of all ages.
There were a handful of female surgeons during my training. Still, only 11% of consultant surgeons are female, and less so Asian. It is for this reason that I teach, examine and interview future consultant surgeons.
I have worked very hard to become a Consultant: I have eight degrees (Jyoti is a 1st class BSc (Hons) MBBS MD MS DHMSA FRCS (Urol)); five books; over 70 medical publications and many book chapters. I was Editor-in-Chief of Medical Woman and am Commissioning Editor of the journals published from the Royal College of Surgeons of England – the first female to hold this role. I received the Chairman’s Award for Asian Women of Achievement and Burton Hospitals Chief Executive’s Pride Award.
Jyoti has started a campaign to raise awareness of prostate cancer
Jyoti says, “Prostate cancer is now the most common cancer in men in this country. Yet, men often present late to health services, maybe out of fear, shame, or embarrassment.
Every 45 minutes in the UK, one man dies of prostate cancer.
I started the campaign with a men’s health talk at our local football club in 2016. I set up my first prostate cancer screening clinic at the Football Club in March 2016. I aimed to see 50 men a day over the two days I ran this clinic – instead I saw 113 men and diagnosed eight men with cancer. There were 137 men who were then on a waiting list and so I did it again. All of this is in my own time and is unpaid charity work, together with Sarah Minns, my colleague.
I have seen 850 men in 11 such clinics, and diagnosed 41 men so far with cancer.
I have also set up a prostate cancer support group in Burton to encourage men with cancer and their partners to openly discuss their cancer journey and break down the stigma associated with it. Around 50 people per month attend.
How Jyoti plans to persuade more men and their families to test
Jyoti takes her clinic to men where they are comfortable – “this started with the football club. I have since been to many Freemason lodges and Community Centres. These surroundings take away the fear of attending a hospital.”
She does a lot of awareness talks and events and is grateful to her husband who wholeheartedly supports her work.
She has set up a free educational not-for-profit website dedicated to this work: www.fightingptostatecancer.co.uk.
What happens in Jyoti’s two-day screening clinics
“I see at least 50 men a day starting at 8am. Each man has a history taken; an examination of the prostate and a PSA blood test– this is essentially a consultation with a consultant urologist. So far, two thirds of the men I have diagnosed with cancer have been because I felt their prostate to be abnormal.
Once I receive the result of the PSA blood test, I call every man with the result so that they are not worried. Any man who needs further investigations such as a biopsy comes to me at the hospital. Men diagnosed with cancer stay under my care in the NHS for continuity.
I then write to every man with the results and a recommendation – a copy of which goes to the GP.
I am now booked to do such an event every month until mid-2019.
Testing for men
Jyoti says that there is no national screening programme in the UK. “Any man over the age of 50 years can request a baseline PSA blood test with their GP, after discussion. I target men from 50-80 in my screening clinics.
In the African-Caribbean population, the risk of prostate cancer is double that of Caucasian men at 1:4. They could request a PSA test from 45 years of age.
What steps prevent prostate?
There are no real preventative steps. There is a link with obesity and there is evidence that a low fat diet is preventative.
Prostate cancer is often called the ‘silent killer’ because there are usually no symptoms.