Author: Emma Garside

Healthcare market research agency GKA, conducts patient fieldwork in a broad range of therapy areas. GKA has extensive experience in larger disease areas, such as diabetes, asthma and oncology, and the expert team routinely recruits patients with conditions as diverse as haemophilia, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, obesity, epilepsy, fibromyalgia and Parkinson's disease.

What is ophthalmology? Ophthalmology is a branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the eyes and visual system. Ophthalmologists are specialists in medical and surgical eye disease, and look after a wide scope of patients ranging from premature babies to the most senior members of the population.

What is prostate cancer? Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that occurs when the cells in the prostate gland grow out of control. It usually develops very slowly and it may be some years before symptoms start to appear when the prostate is large enough to affect the urethra. The causes of prostate cancer are largely unknown; however we do know that the risk of developing this type of cancer is higher in men over the age of 50 and that men with first degree relatives who have had prostate cancer also have an increased risk.

What are the facts? Epilepsy is a neurological condition that causes seizures due to a sudden burst of excess electrical activity in the brain. This electrical activity creates a temporary disruption in the normal messages passed between brain cells and results in a seizure or fit. Most seizures happen suddenly without warning, last a short amount of time and stop by themselves, and the severity or type of seizure differs from person to person. How a person behaves during a seizure will depend on the area of the brain affected  - some will experience a trance-like state for a few seconds or minutes, whilst others lose consciousness and suffer convulsions. Generally, epileptic seizures can be divided into two types: focal seizures where the epileptic activity starts in just a part of the brain, and generalised seizures where epileptic activity occurs in both hemispheres of the brain.

What are the facts? Obesity is an increasingly common problem here in the UK - in fact obesity levels have more than trebled in the last 30 years, prompting fears that we are becoming the "fat man of Europe". With 24.9% of the UK population being obese, we're ahead of countries such as Spain (24.1), Germany (21.3%), Sweden (16.6%) and France (15.6%). And with current estimates predicting that more than half of the population could be obese by 2050, obesity is a very real long-term problem.

The facts about pharmacy Pharmacy is the third largest health profession in the UK - a good job really, considering that in England alone 1.6 million people visit a pharmacy each and every day with the average person paying the pharmacy a visit 14 times over the course of a year. To qualify, pharmacists must train for a total of five years - that's one less year than a doctor and one more year than a nurse - and once fully qualified, you'll find them in a number of different settings, from the high street to hospitals to universities, with some pharmacists now even working in GP surgeries.

What is pathology? Pathology is the study of disease and underpins every aspect of patient care, from diagnostic testing and treatment advice to the use of cutting-edge genetic technology and the prevention of disease. In fact, the work of pathologists helps to develop the treatment for cancer and other conditions, ensure safe blood transfusions and develop vaccines against a range of infectious diseases.

What is an endocrinologist? Endocrinologists specialise in the treatment of problems and diseases of the endocrine glands and hormones. They typically focus on the treatment of hormonal imbalances, with the overall goal of restoring a normal balance of hormones in a patient's body. Common conditions treated by endocrinologists include menopause, diabetes, osteoporosis and thyroid diseases, while some sufferers - such as those living with diabetes - will need lifelong expert care.

What is a urologist? Urologists specialise in the treatment of problems with the female urinary system and the male genitourinary tract, diagnosing and treating disorders of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, prostate and male reproductive organs. Whilst urologists are surgeons, a lot of their work involves the management and treatment of conditions and diseases without surgery. They work with patients of all ages, from babies and children right up to elderly people, and can treat conditions such as tumours, stones, congenital disorders, incontinence and infections as well as impotence and male sterilisation and fertility.Urology was the first surgical specialty to use minimally invasive techniques such as endoscopy and key-hole surgery and continues to remain at the forefront of medical development in robot-assisted surgery, making it a fascinating area for research and medical fieldwork.

Facts about Growth Hormone Deficiency

  • Growth hormones deficiency affects 1 in 3,800 children
  • Although the importance of the pituitary gland for growth was recognised in the late 19th century, growth hormone therapy was only made available in the late 1950s
  • Growth hormone is also known as somatotropin
  • Growth hormone was first isolated from the human pituitary gland in 1956 and the first patient was given human growth hormone in 1958 in Boston, USA
  • Since October 1985, biosynthetic growth hormone has replaced the pituitary-derived hormone in the UK
  • Early diagnosis and treatment means most children with growth hormone deficiency will catch up with other children's growth and achieve a normal growth rate