Predict Prostate receives NICE endorsement and wins University Impact Award

A web tool created by Cambridge scientists to help prostate cancer patients and their doctors make difficult decisions about their treatment has been given an official seal of approval by NICE, the health advice body.

Congratulations to Vincent Gnanapragasam for being awarded Established Researcher and Academic Champion in this year's Vice-Chancellor’s Research Impact and Engagement Awards, for his role in developing Predict Prostate.

Predict Prostate, which was developed by researchers at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, has been endorsed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a recommendation for health care across the country.  

The digital programme, which is freely accessible for healthcare professionals and patients, provides a personalised prognosis for men recently diagnosed with prostate cancer that has not spread. 

Each year nearly 50,000 men are diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer and some face a difficult decision about whether to opt for treatment with the risk of severe side effects like incontinence, or to leave their cancer alone to be monitored.

To help these men make an informed choice, Predict Prostate takes information such as blood test results, the cancer grade and stage, and details about the patient’s age and overall health. The patient information is then compared to data from over 10,000 men to calculate personal 10 and 15 year survival estimates comparing radical treatment with active monitoring.

Since its launch in March this year, the Predict Prostate online calculator has already been accessed over 22,000 times from 50 countries.

Nicola Bent, Deputy Director of Health and Social care at NICE said: “Predict Prostate is an innovative tool that allows people with non-metastatic prostate cancer to make well informed decisions about their care. Patients can enter their details with a clinician, to compare the survival rates and side effects of conservative and radical treatment. This tool should help aid clinician and patient discussions to support them in deciding on the most appropriate treatment. NICE is pleased to endorse this resource as it supports the NICE recommendations made in our prostate cancer guideline and quality standard.”

The official approval from NICE has been welcomed by both patients and the researchers from the University of Cambridge. 

Richard Bull from Woodbridge, Suffolk was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011. The 63-year-old faced a difficult decision. His tumour was slow-growing and hadn’t spread but he had to decide whether to undergo immediate treatment, with its potential side effects, or to have regular check-ups instead. He opted for ‘Active Surveillance’ - where his consultant would regularly assess whether his tumour had grown or changed.

Richard said: “When you’re diagnosed you are asked that question, what do you want to do? And you’ve got to try and make your mind up. Meanwhile your mind is going blank, it’s like being in grey porridge. I mean you just don’t know what to think. You’ve heard that one word – cancer – and your whole life is flashing before you.

“Information is key, and that’s where Predict Prostate helps patients like me make an informed decision on options and risks. It essentially gives power back to the patient allowing them to make their own decisions on the kind of treatment, if any, they would like to receive.” 

Dr David Thurtle, Academic Clinical Fellow in Urology at the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, who undertook the research said: “It’s a great pleasure to have our work endorsed by NICE. The goal of our work has always been to inform and improve decision-making at the point of diagnosis. NICE endorsement should increase clinician and patient confidence in using the tool.  As a clinical researcher it is incredibly gratifying to have helped develop a tool that has so quickly translated into clinical practice.” 

Dr Vincent Gnanapragasam, University Lecturer and Honorary Consultant at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, who led the research, said: ”We recognised that how men are counselled and given information about prostate cancer is quite an imperfect thing and varies greatly from place to place. So now what we have is as close as we can get to an individualised and standardised prognostic or prediction model for what would happen if an individual decided to have initial surveillance or treatment. 

“We believe this tool could significantly reduce the number of unnecessary – and potentially harmful – treatments that patients receive and save the NHS millions every year. It should give confidence for healthcare professionals to recommend it to their patients as a tool to help inform the decisions they are making.”

The research for Predict Prostate received funding fromThe Urology Foundation and the Evelyn Trust, and the Predict Prostate website has been built by the Winton Centre for Risk & Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge, and funded by the David and Claudia Harding Foundation and the Winton Charitable Foundation.

20 Sep 2019