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GPs will recruit men to take part in the TRANSFORM prostate cancer screening trial

Published: 28th November 2023

From Spring 2024, GPs across the UK will recruit men at the highest risk of prostate cancer – men aged between 50 and 75, and Black men aged between 45 and 75, to participate in the biggest prostate cancer screening trial in decades.

Participants will receive innovative screening methods, including MRI scans, to ascertain if new screening methods provide more accurate results than the current blood tests, and to seek evidence of ‘how best to test’ for this disease.

Currently, there is no population screening programme for prostate cancer in the UK. Yet, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, usually affecting men over the age of 65. Incidence rates for prostate cancer in the UK are highest in males aged 75 to 79, with rates higher in Black males. On average, there are around 52,300 new diagnoses each year accounting for 27% of all new cancer cases in males in the UK. Prostate cancer incidence rates are projected to raise by 15% in the UK between 2023 – 2025 and 2038 – 2040.

The NSC concluded that the current prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is not accurate enough to detect prostate cancer that needs treatment and shared that it is ‘still unclear if other tests such as an MRI scan, with or without PSA, are accurate enough’. The NSC did note findings from a recent study have suggested that ‘prostate MRI may have value in screening independently of PSA’.

The £42 million TRANSFORM clinical trial launched by Prostate Cancer UK will seek to establish the best way to screen men. It has been developed in consultation, with support from the NHS, the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and the UK Government.

Laura Kerby, Chief Executive at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “12,000 men die of prostate cancer each year and it’s the most common cancer that doesn’t have a national screening programme. It’s about time that changed. That’s why we’re launching our biggest and most ambitious trial ever. It will finally give us the answers we need to develop a routine testing system that will save thousands of men each year”.

Professor Lucy Chappell, NIHR Chief Executive, said: “New research into harnessing innovative screening methods is crucial in finding new ways to detect this serious disease earlier, in the race against time to save live. That’s why setting up this landmark new trial in partnership between the NIHR and Prostate Cancer UK is so important. Together we can aim to generate high quality long-term evidence to benefit men at risk of developing this condition, and to inform those who plan and deliver NHS services of how best to test for the disease”.

Researchers will start setting up the trial in Spring 2024 and will start recruiting men later in the year.

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