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Trial targets treatment for prostate cancer

As Prostate Cancer Awareness Week (19-25 March) highlights the most common cancer of men in the UK, the largest ever global trial in the area of prostate cancer is investigating the best treatments for the disease.

Prostate cancer claims the lives of 10,000 men in the UK every year, with treatment costs to the NHS of around £41m annually. 

The £20.5m ProtecT trial was commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment (NIHR HTA) programme to evaluate the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and acceptability of three different treatments for men with localised prostate cancer: active monitoring, radical prostatectomy and radical radiotherapy.

Researchers from the Universities of Sheffield, Bristol and Cambridge led by Professors Freddie Hamdy, Jenny Donovan and David Neal are measuring the survival of participants at five, 10 and 15 years. There are also measuring disease progression, complications, lower urinary tract symptoms, quality of life and sexual function, to determine the effectiveness of the treatments.

This is the largest and most successful trial of men with localised prostate cancer worldwide. To date, researchers have tested over 80,000 men between the ages 50 and 69 (as they have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer) across nine UK clinical centres. They have recruited over 1,200 people of them to the trial since it started in 2001, with recruitment due to complete in 2008.

"Each of these treatments can have complications and unwanted side-effects," says Professor Hamdy. "Therefore research is crucial to build knowledge and reduce uncertainty to help inform and support patients' future treatment choices.

"The results of the trial should help to inform UK future screening policy and guidance to the NHS, reducing variation in practice."

The findings of the ProtecT trial will be published in the Health Technology Assessment monograph series. For more information or to register to be alerted when its results are published visit:  

To find out more about Prostate Cancer Awareness Week visit