A study looking at taking tissue samples from the prostate (CamPROBE)

Cancer type:

Prostate cancer





This study looked at a device called CamPROBE to take tissue samples (biopsies) to help diagnose prostate cancer.

It was open for people to join during 2019, and the team published the results in 2020.

More about this trial

Doctors often take biopsies to help diagnose prostate cancer.

When this study was done, they usually did this by passing an ultrasound probe and needle into the back passage (rectum). Doctors put the needle through the rectum and into the prostate, and take several samples of prostate tissue. This is called transrectal ultrasound (TRUS) guided biopsy.          

But there can be problems with TRUS biopsies. Sometimes it can miss the cancer cells. And it can cause problems with urine infections. These are sometimes serious enough that people need to go to hospital for treatment.  

The researchers running this study wanted to find out if a device called CamPROBE is useful in reducing infection risks from a biopsy. It stands for Cambridge PROstate Biopsy DeviceE.

With CamPROBE, the doctor puts a needle through the skin between the rectum and the scrotum to take the biopsies. This area of skin is called the perineum. Taking biopsies this way can cause fewer infections because it is not done through the back passage.

The main aims of this study were to find out:

  • how safe the CamPROBE method is at taking tissue samples
  • what people think about having a biopsy using CamPROBE
  • if CamPROBE biopsies are as good as TRUS biopsies for diagnosing prostate cancer

Summary of results

The research team found that taking prostate biopsies using the CamPROBE device was safe and didn’t cause too much pain or discomfort. 

Study design
This study was for men who needed to have a prostate biopsy. Some men who took part had already had a TRUS biopsy, but needed to have another sample taken. And some had not had a biopsy before.

First, the doctors injected a local anaesthetic in the perineum and inserted an ultrasound probe into the back passage (anus). They then put the CamPROBE needle through the skin and used the ultrasound to guide the needle into the prostate.  

After the procedure, the research team:

  • asked people what they thought about having a CamPROBE biopsy and how painful it was
  • checked for signs of infection 
  • looked at the tissue samples in the lab to see if they contained any prostate cancer cells

A total of 40 men took part in this trial:

  • 19 hadn’t had a biopsy before
  • 21 had already had a biopsy 

The team took a total of 583 samples of tissue. The most common number they took per person was 12. The procedure took between 13 and 40 minutes, and the most common amount of time was 25 minutes.

The researchers asked the men to score their pain during the biopsy on a scale of 0 to 10. The scores ranged from 0 to 7, and the most common score was 3 out of 10 (mild pain).

They asked the 21 men who’d also had a TRUS biopsy which type of biopsy they would recommend to other people to have:

  • 18 said a CamPROBE biopsy
  • 2 said a TRUS biopsy
  • 1 said either type of biopsy

They looked at how many men had cancer cells in their CamPROBE biopsy samples. They found it was 13 out of the 19 men (68%) who had not had a biopsy before. This means the CamPROBE biospy is as good as other biopsies, if not a little better.

Side effects
None of the people taking part had any signs of infection in the month after they had a CamPROBE biopsy. There were no issues with the CamPROBE device not working and no safety concerns during the procedure.

The research team concluded that the CamPROBE device was safe to use for prostate biopsies and didn’t cause too much pain. They suggest it could become an alternative to TRUS biopsies. 

They recommend more trials are done to compare it to other ways of taking prostate biopsies. They also recommend looking at other aspects such as cost.

Where this information comes from    
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

Mr Vincent J Gnanapragasam

Supported by

Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
i4i Project Grant 
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
University of Cambridge

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer 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.

Last reviewed:

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