BACKGROUND: Prostate cancer (PCa) is the most common cancer in men in the UK. Patients with intermediate-risk, clinically localised disease are offered radical treatments such as surgery or radiotherapy, which can result in severe side effects. A number of alternative partial ablation (PA) technologies that may reduce treatment burden are available; however the comparative effectiveness of these techniques has never been evaluated in a randomised controlled trial (RCT). OBJECTIVES: To assess the feasibility of a RCT of PA using high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) versus radical prostatectomy (RP) for intermediate-risk PCa and to test and optimise methods of data capture. DESIGN: We carried out a prospective, multicentre, open-label feasibility study to inform the design and conduct of a future RCT, involving a QuinteT Recruitment Intervention (QRI) to understand barriers to participation. SETTING: Five NHS hospitals in England. PARTICIPANTS: Men with unilateral, intermediate-risk, clinically localised PCa. INTERVENTIONS: Radical prostatectomy compared with HIFU. PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURE: The randomisation of 80 men. SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Findings of the QRI and assessment of data capture methods. RESULTS: Eighty-seven patients consented to participate by 31 March 2017 and 82 men were randomised by 4 May 2017 (41 men to the RP arm and 41 to the HIFU arm). The QRI was conducted in two iterative phases: phase I identified a number of barriers to recruitment, including organisational challenges, lack of recruiter equipoise and difficulties communicating with patients about the study, and phase II comprised the development and delivery of tailored strategies to optimise recruitment, including group training, individual feedback and 'tips' documents. At the time of data extraction, on 10 October 2017, treatment data were available for 71 patients. Patient characteristics were similar at baseline and the rate of return of all clinical case report forms (CRFs) was 95%; the return rate of the patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) questionnaire pack was 90.5%. Centres with specific long-standing expertise in offering HIFU as a routine NHS treatment option had lower recruitment rates (Basingstoke and Southampton) - with University College Hospital failing to enrol any participants - than centres offering HIFU in the trial context only. CONCLUSIONS: Randomisation of men to a RCT comparing PA with radical treatments of the prostate is feasible. The QRI provided insights into the complexities of recruiting to this surgical trial and has highlighted a number of key lessons that are likely to be important if the study progresses to a main trial. A full RCT comparing clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and quality-of-life outcomes between radical treatments and PA is now warranted. FUTURE WORK: Men recruited to the feasibility study will be followed up for 36 months in accordance with the protocol. We will design a full RCT, taking into account the lessons learnt from this study. CRFs will be streamlined, and the length and frequency of PROMs and resource use diaries will be reviewed to reduce the burden on patients and research nurses and to optimise data completeness. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN99760303. FUNDING: This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment programme and will be published in full in Health Technology Assessment; Vol. 22, No. 52. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.
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Aged, Cost-Benefit Analysis, England, Feasibility Studies, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Neoplasm Grading, Patient Satisfaction, Prospective Studies, Prostatectomy, Prostatic Neoplasms, Quality of Life, Research Design, Ultrasound, High-Intensity Focused, Transrectal