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New prostate cancer screening trial to be a ‘pivotal moment in history’

The Transform trial is said to have the potential to reduce deaths from the disease by 40%, saving thousands of lives a year in the UK

A leading charity in prostate cancer research and support is set to launch a new trial to reduce prostate cancer deaths by 40%.

Prostate Cancer UK’s £42m Transform trial is the first national screening programme for prostate cancer which will compare various screening methods to current NHS diagnostic processes, including blood tests, physical examinations and biopsies.

The aim of the trial is to find the safest, most accurate and most cost-effective way to screen men for prostate cancer.

Dr Matthew Hobbs, director of research at Prostate Cancer UK, said: ‘We know that earlier diagnosis saves lives, but previous trials haven’t been able to prove that enough men would be saved using PSA (prostate specific antigen) tests alone, while they did show that these old screening methods caused significant unnecessary harm to men.’

‘We must now prove with the Transform trial that there are better ways to find aggressive prostate cancer that will save even more lives while causing less harm,’ he said.

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The first phase of the trial will involve about 12,500 men and assess PSA blood tests, genetic testing and a faster version of the MRI scan – known as a Prostagram – against current NHS diagnostic methods to see which performs best.

The trial’s second stage, involving up to 300,000 men, will test the most promising options from stage one of the trial.

At least one in 10 patients who are invited to take part will be Black men as they carry double the risk of being diagnosed than other men. Researchers at the charity have called this a ‘vital step’ because previous trials have not included enough Black men to study the impact of screening on them.

This could ‘change practice globally,’ said Dr Hobbs and potentially save the lives of thousands of people who die from prostate cancer in the UK.

He said: ‘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.’

The charity’s trial is supported by the NHS, the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and the UK Government and will begin recruitment and tests later this year.