A trial looking at the effect of sulforaphane on prostate cancer (ESCAPE)

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:

Prostate cancer





This trial is looking at the effect of a natural substance called sulforaphane (sul-fo-raf-ane) on prostate cancer.

There is evidence that eating fresh fruit and vegetables may reduce your risk of getting cancer. This may be due to natural substances in fruit and vegetables.

Sulforaphane is a natural substance in broccoli. There is evidence to suggest that sulforaphane may affect the development of prostate cancer. The researchers want to try and find out if it does.

To find this out the researchers will ask men with prostate cancer to regularly eat broccoli soup for a year.

They will take a sample of their cancer before starting the trial and a year afterwards. They will look at the cancer cells to see if there is any difference between the 2 samples.

The aims of this trial are to find out what effect sulforaphane has on prostate cancer and if it may give some protection against it.

Who can enter

You may be able to enter this trial if you are been seen at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and

  • You have prostate cancer that is only in your prostate gland – your doctor can tell you this
  • Your doctor is monitoring your prostate cancer with regular tests and biopsies (active surveillance)
  • Your body mass index (BMI) Open a glossary item is between 19½ and 35 – your doctor can tell you this
  • You are between 18 and 80 years old

You cannot enter this trial if you

  • Are having chemotherapy
  • Frequently take medication that affects the level of testosterone Open a glossary item in your body
  • Take the blood thinning medicine warfarin
  • Have diabetes Open a glossary item
  • Have, or are at high risk of having, HIV or hepatitis
  • Are allergic to any ingredients of the broccoli soup
  • Are taking dietary supplements or herbal medicine that could affect the outcome of the trial – if you are willing to stop taking them for a month beforehand you may be able to take part
  • Are taking part in another trial looking into dietary supplements or certain foods

Trial design

This trial will recruit up to 100 men.

Your doctor or a research nurse will give you some information about the trial with a reply slip. If you are interested in taking part, return the reply slip to the research team. They will invite you to a talk about the trial at the Institute of Food Research at the Human Nutrition Unit, Norwich Research Park. If you agree to go into the trial, your doctor will continue to see you in the clinic as usual.

This is a randomised trial. The men taking part are put into treatment groups by a computer. Neither you nor your doctor will be able to decide which group you are in.  And neither of you will know which group you are in. This is called a double blind trial.

  • Men in group 1 have standard broccoli soup – usual amount of sulforaphane
  • Men in group 2 have Beneforte broccoli soup – higher amount of sulforaphane
  • Men in group 3 have Beneforte extra broccoli soup – highest amount of sulforaphane

ESCAPE trial diagram

You eat your broccoli soup once a week for a year.

A food company will prepare a broccoli and stilton soup. The researchers will deliver the soup directly to your home. The soup is frozen and there are instructions on how to heat it up. The amount of soup you get at each delivery will depend on the availability of the soup and how much storage space you have.

During the study continue to eat and drink as you normally do. The researchers will ask you to record what you normally eat and drink for a week

  • Before starting the trial
  • Halfway through the trial
  • Towards the end of the trial

They will also ask you to record when you had your soup and how much.

The researchers will ask for samples of your cancer (biopsy Open a glossary item) at the start of the trial and a year later. They will take these samples, either as a needle biopsy or a template biopsy.

For 2 days before each biopsy you must avoid eating

  • Any type of mustard
  • Any type of broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Any type of cabbage
  • Any type of kale
  • Kohl rabi
  • Turnip and turnip tops
  • Chinese cabbage, pak choi, bok choy and similar Chinese vegetables
  • Radish
  • Salad rocket
  • Horseradish
  • Cress
  • Papaya seeds
  • Wasabi

You will be asked to fill in a short questionnaire at the start of the trial, at 6 months and at 1 year. The questions will ask about your physical activity. It will take about 10 to 20 minutes to fill in.

The researchers may also ask for extra blood samples to measure the amount of fat and sugar in your blood. You cannot eat for at least 6 hours before having these samples taken. The samples will be taken at the same time you have your routine blood tests done.



Hospital visits

You see the doctor to have some tests before your biopsy. These tests include

  • A physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • Urine test
  • Heart trace (ECG Open a glossary item)

You have the same tests a year later, before your next biopsy.

Side effects

There is a small risk of infection after the biopsy. You will have some antibiotics to take.

There may be some blood in your urine and bowel motions for a few days after the biopsy. Blood can also be in semen for a number of months afterwards.

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 Richard Mithen

Supported by

Quadram Institute Bioscience
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
Prostate Cancer Foundation

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle - 10996

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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