Orchid- What we do

Orchid is the UK’s leading charity working on behalf of anyone affected by or interested in male cancer – prostate, testicular and penile cancer. Established in 1996 by testicular cancer patient, Colin Osborne MBE and the oncologist who saved his life, Professor Tim Oliver, Orchid exists to save men’s lives from male cancer through a range of Support Services, education and awareness campaigns and a pioneering research programme.

Support Services – Orchid runs an extensive range of services. We offer a comprehensive information service staffed by Male Cancer Information Nurses, a freephone National Male Cancer Helpline 0808 802 0010 and email service helpline@orchid-cancer.org.uk, a portfolio of publications, an award winning testicular cancer microsite “Your Privates”, a telephone based Testicular Cancer Counselling Service, a dedicated website and newsletter low-down. Orchid Nurses also run Male Cancer Awareness Roadshows across the UK offering support and information in the heart of the community. All our services are free of charge.In light of recent government guidelines we are currently exploring other ways in which we can provide support and information in the community. 

A recent addition to our service is “Changing Lives – engaging black African and Caribbean men at risk of or affected by prostate cancer”. Funded by the Big Lottery – Reaching Communities Programme, this important three year project aims to raise awareness of prostate cancer amongst black African and Caribbean men. Orchid is working closely with the charity Cancer Black Care to raise awareness of the disease and to offer support and information to men and their families.

During the year our Male Cancer Nurse Specialists and Community Education Experts responded to 3,110 direct enquires by phone, email and face-to-face. This was an increase of 13% on the previous year reflecting increased interventions in the community and talks and presentations within community networks and workplaces. A total of 25,214 individuals accessed information about male cancer which was an increase of 11% on the previous year.

Education and awareness campaigns – Orchid raises awareness of male cancer and educates men of all ages in the signs and symptoms of these cancers. The Male Cancer Information Nurses work closely with health and social care professionals, other voluntary organisations, community groups and support networks, schools, universities and local companies to deliver education and health awareness programmes and wellness sessions thereby ensuring men of all ages are well informed.

A schools resource pack aimed at promoting awareness of testicular cancer amongst young people complements the “Your Privates” testicular cancer microsite. The schools resource pack offers teachers display materials, featuring lesson plans, a quiz and the “Your Privates” site. The pack is accredited by the PSHE Association. A film featuring testicular cancer patients and an introduction from Alexander Ludwig, star of The Vikings and Hunger Games forms part of the resource. The film gives a very personal insight into testicular cancer from initial signs and symptoms to treatment and aftercare.

The Orchid Community Golf Programme is an important part of our education programme. This is a unique, exciting opportunity to bring golf to young people. Using specialist equipment, the programme is designed to encourage young people to keep fit and healthy whilst promoting good citizenship, community sport and learning about male cancer and the work of Orchid. The programme has already attracted over 29,000 participants.

Throughout the year we run campaigns on a range of issues. The annual Orchid Male Cancer Awareness Week in April has become a recognised campaign in the healthcare diary and is featured in national, regional, local and trade media. The campaign provides the opportunity to highlight awareness of male cancers, address topical issues and share personal experiences.

Past campaign highlights include “Check Your Chaps” a testicular cancer awareness campaign which aired on ITV’s Lorraine programme. Matthew Wolfenden from Emmerdale led the campaign which included interviews with Orchid supporters. The campaign was Highly Commended in the 2016 Excellence in Public Health Communications category in The Communiqué Awards.


Orchid’s “Go Nuts” Week saw the launch a “Go Nuts” Facebook campaign and #indenial aimed to encourage men, their partners and healthcare professionals to be better aware of penile cancer, to understand the common warning signs and symptoms and to take action.


A pioneering, world class research programme – funding of innovative research in the cancer field remains a key focus of Orchid’s work. Our research programme aims to encourage, support and fund research into the causes, prevention and treatment of male cancers. It has identified new ways to treat male cancers and improved our understanding of how these cancers behave. The four programmes of research include molecular biology and cancer genetics, histopathology, cancer epidemiology and clinical trials.

Building on our research progress, December 2011 saw the appointment of Professor John Kelly to the Orchid Chair in Male Genito-urinary Oncology.  Professor Kelly is a Consultant Urological Surgeon, Professor of Uro-Oncology and Clinical Lead of Uro-Oncology based at University College Hospital, London. The Chair played an important role in advancing the understanding of the biology of male cancers.

As part of our commitment to supporting the wider dissemination of research outcomes Orchid has in recent years provided funding for specialist meetings and conferences both in the UK and further afield. Orchid is proud to sponsor the G3 Testes Meeting at the annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Attended by the world’s leading testicular cancer experts, the meeting also provides a platform for Orchid to showcase its work.

The Orchid Study and Travel Award Programme launched in 2013. The aim of the Award is to support and encourage young people working in the field of male cancer. Holders of the Award have the opportunity to attend conferences in the UK and internationally thereby furthering their understanding of male cancer.

Working together to make a difference

Orchid is proud to work in partnership with other voluntary organisations, networks, MPs and the media to raise awareness of male cancer and campaign for improved services. These include Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Prostate Cancer UK, Teenage Cancer Trust, the British Association of Urological Nurses (BAUN), the British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS), Penile Cancer Supra-networks, Cancer Campaigning Group and Cancer52, an equivalent collaborative concerned with less common cancers that together account for around 52% of all cancer deaths in the UK.

In recent years Orchid has taken part in several roundtable policy discussions to examine variations in prostate cancer care and to campaign for improved services. Highlights from these discussions saw the launch of three reports,  “The Forgotten 10,000: Getting it right for men with prostate cancer, “Prostate Cancer in BME Communities Raising Awareness and Improving Outcomes” and “More to do: Identifying and tackling the unmet need in prostate cancer care”. The latter highlighted shortfalls in the quality of information and support offered to men with prostate cancer compared to other cancers and made 15 specific recommendations to drive change and improve prostate cancer services and overall quality of care.

Supporting Orchid

Orchid is a small, dynamic charity. We rely on voluntary income to meet our commitments to supporting men, their families and those with an interest in male cancer. Funds are raised through the generosity of individuals, the business community, trusts and foundations.

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