INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVE:
Robot-assisted Radical Prostatectomy (RARP) is an effective cure for organ confined prostate cancer but is associated with considerable post-operative functional toxicity. The NeuroSAFE technique (intra-operative frozen section analysis of the neurovascular structure adjacent margin) may help improve functional outcomes by promoting safe nerve-sparing (NS) RARP without compromising on oncological outcomes. NeuroSAFE technique has reported favourably in retrospective, single-centre studies but has never been evaluated prospectively by a randomised study. The NeuroSAFE PROOF Feasibility Study has succeeded in demonstrating feasibility and has facilitated opening of the full-scale, definitively powered NeuroSAFE Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) (NCT03317990). We report on the design and progress of the full NeuroSAFE PROOF RCT.
Potent men (IIEF-5>21) with localised prostate cancer at 4 regional uro-oncology centres in the UK (UCLH, Bristol, Sheffield and Glasgow) are eligible. Participants are randomised 1:1 to RARP with NS decision guided by standard of care (clinical information, DRE and pre-operative mpMRI surgical plan) vs. RARP with NS decision guided by standard of care information and the NeuroSAFE technique. The primary outcome is erectile function recovery assessed by IIEF-5 score >15 at 12-months. Important secondary outcomes include detailed peri-operative outcomes, histological outcomes, post-operative complications, biochemical recurrence rates, urinary continence (assessed by ICIQ), and health related quality of life (assessed by Rand-36 and EQ-5D-5L). Aiming to demonstrate a difference of 15% in erectile function recovery rates between the arms, a total of 404 men will need to be randomised and treated. Patients will continue to be followed for outcomes until 5 years after treatment.
At the time of writing, 159 men have been recruited and treated with RARP as per random allocation at the 4 participating sites. The independent DMC has met thrice to ensure the oncological safety of the trial and will continue to review the data at intervals. Covid-19 has led to significant challenges, including suspension of recruitment and difficulties performing follow-up. The trial team have developed new methods of recruitment, consent and follow-up to ensure conduct of the study remains in line with the highest standards of trial conduct.
The NeuroSAFE technique has been reported as a method to optimise outcomes for men undergoing RARP for over a decade, but, in the absence of level 1 evidence, equipoise remains. We hope that our full trial (the first RCT of the NeuroSAFE technique in the world) will provide the evidence to establish whether what has long been a promising technique truly improves outcomes for men undergoing RP.
Source of Funding:
NeuroSAFE PROOF is funded by the JP Moulton Charitable Foundation