CamPROBE may save vital time and money while reducing the risk of infection

November will witness the launch of a new device that is set to transform the historically uncomfortable process of prostate cancer diagnosis.

The Cambridge Prostate Biopsy Device (CamPROBE) is designed to decrease the risk of infection, compared with traditional transrectal biopsies, while also improving the overall experience for patients. Critically, the cost is also expected to be less than half that of existing devices.

CamPROBE, unlike existing biopsy devices, requires only two incisions instead of the typical 12. It also incorporates a needle to deliver local anaesthetic – sheathed within a coaxial cannula for ease of use.

Traditionally, prostate cancer has been diagnosed with a transrectal needle biopsy of the prostate, guided by an ultrasound probe inserted into the rectum. This awkward strategy carries a significant risk of side effects, including urinary infections and severe sepsis, as the needle traverses the rectal wall a number of times on the way to the prostate.

As a result, medical and professional bodies now advocate using the transperineal route – the space between the legs and under the scrotum – instead.

With one in eight men diagnosed with prostate cancer, urology expert Professor Vincent Gnanapragasam and his team at the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust created the CamPROBE with the ambition of making prostate biopsy simple, safe and – ultimately – affordable.

Professor Gnanapragasam, noted: "In a multi-centre clinical investigation study, there were no reports of infections, device deficiencies or safety issues from use of the device – and cancer detection rates were equivalent to other means of biopsy. Procedure times were short and only low amounts of local anaesthetic were required, yet low pain scores were reported by patients.”

“More than 85% of patients said they would recommend the CamPROBE procedure to someone else as a method of having a prostate biopsy done," he added.

Healthcare innovation consultancy Health Tech Enterprise and Cambridge Enterprise – the commercialisation arm of the University of Cambridge – secured intellectual property protection for the CamPROBE device.

They also helped with the procurement of grant funding from the National Institute for Health and Care Research to enable the CamPROBE device to be refined, evaluated and commercialised.