A study to find out if looking at gene changes would be useful in screening for prostate cancer (PROFILE pilot)

Cancer type:

Prostate cancer





This study looked at the DNA and results from prostate cancer screening tests of men with a family history of prostate cancer. 

More about this trial

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men in the UK. Doctors are working to understand more about the causes of prostate cancer.

Because prostate cancer can sometimes run in families, researchers believe that changes to genes may increase men’s risk.

This study looked at gene changes in the DNA Open a glossary item of men with a family history of prostate cancer. Men that took part had prostate screening tests including:

  • blood tests
  • tissue samples (biopsies Open a glossary item)

Some men also had an MRI scan.

Researchers hoped to build a picture (a genetic profile) of each man’s gene changes. And, look for links between these and the screening tests results.

The aim of this study was to see if it is useful to include genetic profiles in screening for prostate cancer. 

Summary of results

The research team concluded that it is safe and accurate to use prostate biopsies to screen men with a family history of prostate cancer.

They also think that a genetic profile might be useful in future to see who has a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. But, in this study they didn’t find a link between gene changes and prostate cancer.       

100 men took part in this study. Everyone:

  • had a blood test to check for a protein called prostate specific antigen (PSA)
  • had a blood test to check for changes in genes (SNP Open a glossary item)
  • had a prostate biopsy using an ultrasound scan (TRUS biopsy)
  • answered questionnaires about their medical and family history

Researchers also asked 50 men to have an MRI scan.

When the study team looked at the results of the prostate biopsies they found that 25 out of 100 men (25%) had prostate cancer. 12 of these men had a medium or high grade cancer (the cancer cells looked very abnormal under the microscope).

When researchers looked at the results of the PSA blood test of these 25 men, they found that 13 out of 25 (around 50%) had a low PSA level.

A low PSA level (less than 3 ng/mL) is a normal reading. When this happens, men do not usually have further screening tests (such as a biopsy). This highlights the need to find additional ways to screen men that are more reliable.  

Doctors studied the blood tests to look for changes in genes. They didn’t find any link between those and prostate cancer.

This was a small study and the researchers think a bigger number of men is needed to look at whether gene changes can be used as part of screening. They are currently doing another study and hope that around 700 men will take part.

We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Prof Rosalind Eeles

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Institute of Cancer Research (ICR)
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
The Ronald and Rita Macauley Foundation
The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Keith took part in a trial looking into hormone therapy

A picture of Keith

"Health wise I am feeling great. I am a big supporter of trials - it allows new treatments and drugs to be brought in.”

Last reviewed:

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