Meet the Man Van

The Man Van, an innovative new outreach programme, has been launched by the hospital to provide free health checks for men and boost early diagnosis of prostate and other urological cancers. 

The mobile health clinic, supported by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, is visiting workplaces and community organisations, in London to improve healthcare access for men who are less likely to receive regular health checks, and are at risk of having cancer diagnosed late, when it is more difficult to treat.  

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men in the UK, with over 50,000 men diagnosed every year. It is also the third biggest cancer killer in the UK and in 20% of cases in England men only seek medical help when their cancer is at an advanced stage and too late to cure. 

Ernesto Montero a patient in front of the Man Van

Ernesto Montero, 50 from Finsbury Park, was able to book an appointment in the Man Van through his employer, TGN Construction. He said:  

“When I was offered the opportunity to have an appointment in the Man Van, it was a no brainer. The van is so close to my work and booking an appointment was really easy. I live in North London and work long hours in Croydon so finding the time to book a GP appointment is hard.  

“The results revealed that my PSA blood test levels were a bit high for my age, and I was referred to The Royal Marsden straight away for more blood and urine tests, along with an MRI scan and a biopsy. Fortunately, no cancer was found. I’ll go back to the hospital for another PSA blood test in six months and an MRI scan in a year.”  
 

To find out more, we spoke to Dr Masood Moghul, the Charity funded Clinical Research Fellow working on the Man Van programme.

Q&A with Man Van Clinical Research Fellow, Dr Masood Moghul

Photo of Dr Masood Moghul against a blue background wearing NHS lanyard
Dr Masood Moghul, Clinical Research Fellow at The Royal Marsden

How did you get involved in the Man Van programme?

I joined The Royal Marsden as a Specialist Registrar in Urology in October 2020 and got involved in the Man Van soon after. Since October 2021, I have been working full-time on the project as a Clinical Research Fellow, thanks to funding from The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Can you tell us more about The Man Van programme and who it aims to support?

The Man Van is an innovative new outreach programme developed by The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, RM Partners West London Cancer Alliance, and The Institute of Cancer Research, London. The mobile health clinic is providing free health checks to men in London with the aim of boosting early diagnosis of prostate and other urological cancers, along with other common conditions.

Starting in Croydon, the van is visiting workplaces and community organisations, such as churches, to improve healthcare access for men who are less likely to receive regular health checks and are at risk of having cancer diagnosed late, when it is more difficult to treat. The Man Van is particularly focused on men of working age (who typically have worse outcomes than older men), particularly those in manual jobs who often struggle to access healthcare and Black men, who have roughly double the risk of developing prostate cancer, are also being encouraged to get checked.

We hope the van will help boost the early diagnosis of prostate and other cancers, which could improve survival rates. We also want to raise awareness of multiple conditions, including prostate cancer, to empower men to recognise the signs and symptoms of these diseases and seek help if necessary. As we are targeting men who are less likely to receive health checks or are at higher risk of developing diseases like prostate cancer, we hope this unique care model can make a real difference to healthcare access by bringing support to men in a convenient location, such as their workplace.

Photo of the Man Van mobile clinic in Greater London.
The Man Van -an innovative new mobile health clinic for men.
Royal Marsden Nurse and patient wearing facemasks having a consultation inside the Man Van
A nurse and patient in the Man Van

How do the Man Van appointments work?

The Man Van has a built-in clinic space where, if appropriate, men are given PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) tests which is a blood test that can help detect prostate cancer, as well as tests for diseases like diabetes and hypertension.

After each appointment, a Royal Marsden nurse discusses the findings with the patient and, with their consent, shares this information with their GP.

If necessary, men can be referred to a specialist service for further investigations or treatment. If cancer or an increased risk of the disease is potentially detected, The Royal Marsden will be offered as a referral option to patients along with their local hospital.

What is your role in the Man Van programme?

As part of my role, I see patients in clinics in the Man Van alongside an Advanced Nurse Practitioner from The Royal Marsden. I am also involved in raising awareness of the van, including outreach to local community groups such as churches and local community centres, and working with local GPs. I have also developed the protocols around the new service, including which investigations are carried out in the van, the clinical pathways for each and the referral process.

Alongside Dr Netty Kinsella, a Uro-Oncology Nurse Consultant at The Royal Marsden, I’m also creating a questionnaire so men can give feedback following their appointment in the van and, if relevant, the subsequent referral process. It’s important for us to understand how they found the experience, including if they found the van a comfortable space to talk about their health, so we can tailor the service to suit their needs. 

How is the van supporting research at The Royal Marsden? 

The van is providing men the opportunity to take part in clinical trials carried out by The Royal Marsden and The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR). This includes the PROFILE study which aims to understand why some men, including Black men, are at greater risk of prostate cancer, and develop new ways to improve diagnosis and treatment. 

What are the next steps for the project? 

We hope to complete the Man Van pilot programme in 2-3 years. Every few months, we will take stock and analyse the data we’ve gathered from men who attend appointments in the van. Hopefully, we’ll be able to show that this care model can help speed up the detection of diseases and improve outcomes for men. In time, I’d love to see a fleet of Man Van’s rolled out across the UK!

Did you know that 1 in 2 people will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime? To have the best chance, they need to be diagnosed as early as possible so that they can be treated before their cancer has spread.

Thanks to support from people like you, we are able fund clinical research fellows like Dr Masood Moghul and support initiatives like the Man Van to boost early diagnosis.

Find out how you can support us here.

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