Information for patients


As men get older it is common for their prostate gland to get bigger. The prostate gland sits at the exit of the bladder like a collar so when it enlarges it can be difficult, or even impossible, for men to pass urine or can cause other bothersome urinary symptoms.  25,000 men each year have an operation to relieve this problem by reducing the size of the prostate, making it one of the most common operations performed in the NHS.

At present the ‘gold’ standard operation for bladder obstruction due to benign prostatic enlargement is called Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP), which has a long history in the NHS and is generally very successful, although it can have some complications. Various laser procedures have been tried but have not become widely used, either because they have been difficult to do, or because the results were not as successful as TURP for relieving symptoms.

Purpose of the trial

The UNBLOCS trial looked at a new type of laser called Thulium which cuts and vaporises the prostate and had shown promising results.  This is an easier technique for surgeons to do than previous lasers, and there was some evidence to indicate that patients may benefit from reduced blood loss and a faster return home after their operation.

This four year trial compared TURP with the laser operation to find out which gives the better results, to establish which is safer and better value for patients and the NHS. 410 patients were randomly allocated to either the laser procedure or standard TURP operation across seven centres, and the trial has now completed.

Taking part

The trial closed to recruitment in December 2016 and has now completed.  Thank you to all of those who took part - your contribution is greatly appreciated and without you the trial would not have been possible.

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