A trial comparing treatment approaches for prostate cancer (ProtecT)

Cancer type:

Prostate cancer




Phase 3

This trial was looking at radiotherapy, surgery and active monitoring to find the best treatment for localised prostate cancer.

If prostate cancer is completely contained within the prostate gland, it is called localised prostate cancer. It can be difficult to decide which treatment is best for localised prostate cancer. The options include

This trial compared these 3 approaches to treatment to see which was best for localised prostate cancer.

Summary of results

The full results of this trial are not available yet. But the trial team have published details of the number of men who agreed to take part and the treatments they had.

The trial recruited men for more than 8 years. During that time, the researchers invited men between the ages of 50 and 69 to have an appointment with a specialist nurse to talk about having a PSA blood test. If they agreed to have the test and the PSA level was between 3ng/ml and 20ng/ml, they were invited to have a prostate biopsy.

If the prostate biopsy showed that a man had prostate cancer contained within the prostate gland (localised prostate cancer), he was asked if he would be willing to be put into 1 of 3 treatment groups at random. This means that neither he nor his doctor could decide which treatment he would have.

The research team invited 228,966 men to have an appointment with a specialist nurse and more than 4 out of 10 men (44%) agreed to this. Most of these men (82%) agreed to have a PSA test. Of these

  • Nearly 9 out of 10 of the men (89%) had a PSA test result of less than 3ng/ml
  • Just over 1 in 10 men (11%) had a PSA test result of between 3ng/ml and 20ng/ml, and most of these men (87%) went on to have a prostate biopsy

Out of the 7,414 men who had a biopsy

  • 2,896 were diagnosed with prostate cancer
  • 2,417 of them had localised prostate cancer

The researchers also included 247 men who had been diagnosed with localised prostate cancer as part of an earlier pilot study, so there were 2,664 men in total. Of these, more than 6 out of 10 (62%) agreed to have their treatment chosen at random.

  • 545 had radiotherapy
  • 553 had surgery to remove their prostate gland
  • 545 had active monitoring

By 2016, the trial team will have followed up the men in this trial for an average of 10 years. At this point they will look at the results to see which treatment option is best. We will update the information on this page once the new information is available.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. 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. 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

Professor F Hamdy
Professor J Donovan
Professor D Neal

Supported by

NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme
University of Oxford
University of Bristol
University of Cambridge
Cancer Research UK 
NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre

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:

Rate this page:

Currently rated: 2 out of 5 based on 1 vote
Thank you!
We've recently made some changes to the site, tell us what you think

Share this page