One Bristow employee’s successful bout with prostate cancer

Bristow’s Robin Latcham, prostate cancer survivor, encourages all men over 50 to get checked for this disease

“You’ve got cancer”

Three words that no-one wants to hear, ever. But each year around 17 million people across the world are diagnosed with some form of the disease.

And this year one of them was Robin Latcham.

“To be honest it came as a massive surprise,” said the 62-year-old Bristow Search and Rescue Ground Operations Manager. "I’ve been lucky to have enjoyed good health all my life and I certainly didn’t have any symptoms,”

But the fact was that Latcham, who is based at Bristow's Aberdeen, U.K. HQ, had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, a disease which kills almost 400,000 men globally each year.

"It all started in 2019," said Latcham. "I saw some stories in the media about men my age with prostate cancer and they got me thinking. It occurred to me that I was at an age when it might be sensible to have a chat with my GP, particularly as another colleague in the office had been diagnosed with the condition.”

Robin was one of thousands of UK men influenced to have a health check following the high-profile prostate cancer diagnoses of actor Stephen Fry and popular U.K. newsreader Bill Turnbull.

Dubbed the ‘Fry-Turnbull effect’ their experiences led to a 20% increase in prostate cancer referrals and in 2022 it became the UK’s most commonly diagnosed cancer for the first time.

“Looking back the decision to contact my GP may have saved my life," said Latcham.

A chat with his doctor led to Latcham taking some simple blood tests. Initial results suggested something maybe wasn’t entirely right and he was referred to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary Urology Department. Further tests there revealed there might be a very low level of non-aggressive cancer, but it was nothing to worry about.

At this point Latcham began a monitoring program with regular blood tests, biopsies and MRI scans. This continued for three years, until one of his regular biopsies showed a change.

Latcham said: “The tests revealed the previously discovered low level cancer was now developing into something more aggressive so, after discussing my options with the Consultant, I was admitted to hospital for surgery.”

The procedure was a success and, although he’s still recovering, Robin is cancer-free and acutely aware that his story could have been very different.

“I just thought that at my age it would be sensible to get myself checked out,” said Latcham. “I really didn’t expect to be diagnosed with cancer, I thought I was just taking a sensible precaution – but it turned out to be one of the most important decisions I ever made.

“I feel so lucky with my outcome, it could have been very different. So, my message to any men over 50 is: don’t hesitate to speak with a medical professional if you have any concerns.

“Prostate cancer is complex. Symptoms are not always obvious, but seeking the advice of medical professionals is highly recommended and there is lots of information and support available.

“If in doubt – check it out. I did, and it led to the careful monitoring and subsequent surgery which probably saved my life."