The King’s cancer diagnosis will have come as a terrible shock to many, but sadly statistics show that men (and those over 75, as the King now is) are more likely to develop cancer than others.
The most encouraging aspect is that the disease has apparently been detected early, and early diagnosis equals the best chance of cure.
It appears the diagnosis was made possible by his recent hospital procedure (treatment for an enlarged prostate), although we are told he does not have prostate cancer.
While we might think it was a stroke of good luck, it is not unusual to discover an unrelated condition when a patient is hospitalized for a planned surgery.
The most encouraging aspect is that the disease has apparently been detected early, and early diagnosis equals the best chance of cure. In the photo, King Charles leaves the London clinic.
Many of my patients found it reassuring to know that their GP was present when they had an operation and I was happy to be able to do so. Pictured, Dr Martin Scurr
This is usually the result of a general physical examination performed as part of the prehospital evaluation, an essential task to ensure the patient is fit to receive general anesthesia.
Such evaluations may include a chest x-ray, particularly in patients who may be considered an anesthetic risk, either because of their age or because they have additional risk factors, such as a history of smoking, asthma, or other cardiac or respiratory problems.
In my experience, more than once a blood test as simple as a preoperative CBC has revealed, for example, more serious illness before surgery for a completely unrelated condition.
It is an unpleasant shock when this happens, but in every case I can remember, those patients were cured and the coincidence of the diagnosis made immediately before an unrelated operation was what gratifyingly saved their lives.
The physical examination may also reveal, for example, a skin lesion, such as the malignant melanoma that was detected in the Duchess of York when she underwent breast reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy.
I once saw an enlarged lymph node in a patient when he was being anesthetized for abdominal surgery: removal of the gallbladder.
In my experience, more than once, a blood test as simple as a preoperative complete blood count has revealed, for example, more severe illness before surgery for an unrelated condition (stock image)
What determines the aggression of cancer is not only its origin, but also the general physical resistance of the affected individual (archive image)
Although he was a family doctor, he acted as a surgical assistant; Many of my patients found it reassuring to know that their GP was present when they had an operation and I was happy to do so.
I ordered a biopsy of the lymph node and a day or two later it was discovered that the patient had lymphoma, so he subsequently underwent treatment and remains cured to this day.
The Royal Family has some experience with cancer. Among them, George VI, grandfather of our current king, who had his cancerous lung removed by a surgical team from Westminster Hospital at Buckingham Palace (my father was one of the two anaesthetists).
Some years later the Queen Mother underwent surgery to remove part of her colon and was cured of bowel cancer.
What this reflects is that cancer is common, rather than a family trend in this case. And it’s becoming more common: there was a time when medical students were taught that cancer would eventually affect one in five people. In the current era, with better diagnoses and effective treatments and, unfortunately, increasing risk factors such as obesity, the incidence of cancer is said to be one in three.
But rest assured, survival figures, especially with earlier diagnosis, are better than ever, whatever the origin of the cancer.
What determines the aggression of cancer is not only its origin, but also the general physical resistance of the affected individual.
That is why His Majesty, slim, energetic and with a well-known attitude towards both exercise and healthy eating, is in the best position to recover from what is now assailing him.