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Prostate cancer screening trial

View profile for Laura Owen
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Cancer Research UK estimates that prostate cancer is responsible for the loss of 12,000 lives a year. In the UK, it is the most common type of cancer in men.  A study by the Lancet Commission on prostate cancer estimates that deaths are set to double from 1.4 million in 2020 to 2.9 million in 2040. Yet, to date there is no screening programme in place for prostate cancer. 

According to Prostate Cancer UK, past trials using prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests and biopsies, prevented between 8% and 20% of deaths. However, a new £42 million project named ‘TRANSFORM’, the biggest cancer screening trial in 20 years, claims to have the potential to prevent deaths from prostate cancer by 40%. 

According to Prostate Cancer UK, the trial is not yet open for recruitment but men between 50 and 75, or from the age of 45 for black men (compared to other men, black men carry double the risk of developing prostate cancer), may receive a letter via their GP from next year inviting them to participate in TRANSFORM. 

The first stage of the trial will look at comparing diagnosis using PSA blood tests, genetic testing and a prostagram scan (a fast non-invasive MRI scan) against the current diagnostic methods used by the NHS. Around 12,500 men will be involved. 

The second stage will test the most encouraging methods using the results from the first stage. Up to 300,000 men will be involved in this second stage. Patients will then be reviewed over at least a ten year period to assess how the screening affected the quality and length of their lives.

Director of research at Prostate Cancer UK, Dr Matthew Hobbs, has commented: "We know that earlier diagnosis saves lives, but previous trials haven't been able to prove that enough men would be saved using PSA tests alone, while they did show that these old screening methods caused significant unnecessary harm to men…We must now prove that there are better ways to find aggressive prostate cancer that will save even more lives while causing less harm…This is a pivotal moment in the history of prostate cancer research and we're proud to be leading the way and to be supporting some of the best researchers in the world to make it happen."

Sadly, we see too many cases of missed opportunities for earlier diagnosis. The results of the screening trial will hopefully mean that more men are diagnosed earlier, leading to thousands of lives being saved.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to the negligence of a medical or health professional, including the delay in diagnosing cancer, then we may be able to help you pursue a claim for compensation. Our leading team of experts are on hand to offer advice, so please get in touch with us on 0161 696 6165 or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you directly.