Research into treatment for early prostate cancer

Before new treatments can be introduced they need to be tested thoroughly. This is so we can be sure that they work and that they are safe. 


Doctors usually remove localised prostate cancer with surgery. There are several ways to do this, and it is not clear yet which one is best. 

The types are:

  • open surgery
  • keyhole surgery (laparoscopic)
  • robot assisted surgery

Recent research compared different types of surgery. Researchers wanted to find out how long men have to stay in hospital with each type of surgery, side effects and to see if the cancer comes back after surgery.

Researchers are also looking at how a drug usually used for treating diabetes (metformin) can affect the prostate tissue. They look at the prostate tissue when it's removed during surgery. 


Radiotherapy is one of the main treatments for prostate cancer. Researchers are looking at ways to improve it and reduce the side effects.

This includes research into:

  • what dose they need to give and how much of the area around the prostate that you need treatment for
  • whether radiotherapy after surgery lowers the risk of the cancer coming back
  • how to reduce side effects, for example using a ProSpare, which is a small device that goes into your back passage

Hormone therapy

Prostate cancer depends on the male hormone testosterone for its growth. Hormone therapies lower the levels of testosterone. You might have it to lower the risk of your cancer coming back after treatment or to shrink or slow the growth of an advanced cancer.

Researchers are looking into:

  • new hormone therapies
  • the timing of when to have treatment
  • having it with other treatments, eg atoravastatin - a type of statin

High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)

Researchers are looking at high powered ultrasound waves to treat early prostate cancer. They only treat areas of cancer that would be at risk of spreading. The researchers would like to see how well it works and how it affects men’s quality of life.


This is a device that uses an electrical current to destroy areas of cancer. Researchers are looking at how well it works as a treatment for localised prostate cancer.

Heat treatment (Radiofrequency ablation)

Radiofrequency ablation uses heat made by radiowaves to kill cancer cells. Research is looking into how well this treatment works and finding out more about the side effects.

Quality of life

More and more men are surviving prostate cancer. And because of this researchers are interested in ways that men who have finished treatment for prostate cancer can live as independent and productive lives as possible. They want to see which men are more likely to have side effects from their treatment.

Diet and physical activity

There is research going on  looking at how making changes to your diet and increasing the amount of exercise you do might help reduce the risk of the cancer coming back after surgery.

Research into treatment for advanced prostate cancer

Researchers are looking into treatments such as targeted cancer drugs, hormone therapies and chemotherapy for advanced prostate cancer 

Last reviewed: 
05 Aug 2019
  • Cancer: Principles and practice of oncology (10th edition)
    DeVita and others
    Lipincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2015

  • Prevention and early detection of prostate cancer.
    Cuzick and others.
    The Lancet Oncology. Vol 15, 2014

  • Prostate cancer.
    Attard and others.
    The Lancet. Vol 387, 2016

  • Prostate Cancer: diagnosis and treatment.
    National Collaborating Centre for Cancer, 2014

  • Cancer Research UK Clinical Trials database
    Accessed August 2019

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