Article written by the PROTECTOR study team

Published 4 November 2021

PROTECTOR is a research study for women at increased risk of ovarian cancer. Some women are at increased risk as they carry a fault/alteration in any of these genes: BRCA1, BRCA2 RAD51C, RAD51D, BRIP1 or PALB2, or they have a strong family history of ovarian cancer. The study is open to women who have not yet gone through the menopause.

We are very grateful for the generous support of the Barts and the London Charity and the Rosetrees trust, in enabling us to carry out this research.

PROTECTOR aims to assess the impact on women of a new two-step surgery to prevent ovarian cancer. This involves initially just having the fallopian tubes (or ‘tubes’) removed to prevent ovarian cancer. This is followed by removing the ovaries in a second operation at a later date of the patient’s choosing or following natural menopause. This reduces the risk of cancer whilst also preserving the ovaries. This avoids the symptoms and health consequences of early menopause. Early menopause is associated with side effects like hot flushes, sweats, mood changes, thinning of the bones, memory problems and a higher risk of heart disease. It may also reduce libido and impair sexual function.

The study assesses women’s views and the impact of this approach to prevent ovarian cancer on sexual function, hormone levels, quality of life and overall satisfaction. Outcomes from this new approach are compared to the traditional approach of removal of both tubes and ovaries at the same operation. This is also compared to the well-being of women who do not have an operation.

Pre-menopausal high-risk women are able to choose which arm of the study they wish to take part in: (a) the new two-step surgery (RRESDO); (b) the traditional single operation removing both tubes and ovaries (RRSO), and (c) no surgery (Control)

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Study Update

We have a new Twitter handle: @protector_qmul - follow us to keep in touch!

PROTECTOR is expanding! We are now active at 37 centres across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. To date over 420 women have participated in the study, shown below in each arm.

Graph showing number of women being recruited for PROTECTOR study

We aim to recruit 1,000 women in total (333 in each study arm) by December 2024.

We have recently gained permission to expand the study to include women with other conditions. This includes those with a fault/alteration in the PALB2 gene, and women who are planning to conceive using IVF treatment. We can also to include women who have completed treatment for cancer (most commonly breast cancer) after 6 months.

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Take Part or Find Out More

If you would like to take part, please ask your GP to refer you to your nearest recruitment centre. A current list of participating centres is provided below.

Alternatively, please contact the PROTECTOR team for further details on how to take part or if you have any queries.

For more information please see the study website: http://protector.org.uk/information-for-participants/, where you can find a video and more.

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Please feel free to contact us on the details provided below:

Email: bci-prote[email protected]

Address: PROTECTOR Research Team, CECM, Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, Charterhouse Square, London EC1M 6BQ

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Chief Investigator: Prof Ranjit Manchanda

Sponsor: Queen Mary University of London

Funders: Barts Charity, Rosetrees Trust

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Participating Sites

Barts Health NHS Trust

St George’s University Hospitals NHS Trust

Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Trust

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

Worcestershire Acute Hospital Trust

Manchester University NHS Trust

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust

Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust

Ninewells Hospital, NHS Tayside

University College London Hospital Trust

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

Liverpool Women's Hospital NHS Trust

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust

University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, NHS Grampian

County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust

Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust

Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust

Northampton General Hospitals NHS Trust

Belfast Health & Social Care Trust

Northwick Park and St Mark's Hospitals

Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust

University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Trust

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Trust

South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, NHS Lothian

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust

Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust

Ysbyty Gwynedd Hospital, Betsi Cadwaladr UHB

Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust

Swansea Bay University Local Health Board