A study looking at a test for examining lymph nodes during surgery for a gynaecological cancer (PIONIR)

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:

Cervical cancer
Vulval cancer
Womb (uterine or endometrial) cancer





This study is using a dye that shows up under a special camera. This is to help surgeons identify the lymph nodes Open a glossary item nearest the cancer during surgery for women’s cancers.

More about this trial

Cancer cells can spread to lymph nodes through the normal circulation of body fluid. So if you have surgery to remove a cancer, the surgeon may also remove all the lymph nodes closest to it. The only way to find out if lymph nodes contain cancer is for a pathologist Open a glossary item to look at them after surgery. In many cases the lymph nodes don’t show signs of containing cancer, but are removed just in case. Removing all the nodes can increase the risk of side effects or complications after surgery. If surgeons could know during surgery whether or not nearby lymph nodes contained cancer, they would only need to remove those affected.

This study is looking at a new camera test to see if it can help surgeons see which lymph nodes are the first to take up fluids draining from the cancer. Doctors call these lymph nodes sentinel nodes. During surgery, the study team will inject a dye into the cancer. This dye shines brightly under infrared light, showing the surgeon which nodes are the sentinel nodes.

The aim of the study is to see if using the dye and camera lets surgeons clearly see the sentinel nodes. In future, these sentinel nodes could then be tested for cancer during surgery. But in this study everyone will have all nearby lymph nodes removed, which is standard treatment. You will not have any direct benefit from taking part in this study, and it is unlikely to change your treatment plan in any way. But the results of the study will be used to help women with a gynaecological cancer in the future.

Who can enter

You may be able to enter this study if you have any of the following cancers

and you are

  • Due to have surgery to remove your cancer and lymph nodes around it
  • At least 18 years old

You cannot enter this study if you

  • Are pregnant
  • Are allergic to shellfish or the dye used in this study – you can check this with your doctor
  • Have had chemotherapy
  • Have had radiotherapy or surgery to the lymph nodes the team want to look at in this study
  • Are not happy for the team to tell your GP that you are taking part in this study
  • Have any other condition that may affect you or the results of the study if you took part

Trial design

This study will recruit up to 60 women.

Everyone will have routine surgery as planned. Once you are asleep under general anaesthetic Open a glossary item, the team will inject a small amount of dye near to the cancer. They will use the camera to look for glowing lymph nodes and remove these first.

They will film the procedure and take pictures of nodes before and after they are removed. You then have all nearby lymph nodes removed as normal. These are sent to the pathologist, who will check whether or not they contain cancer cells.

The study team will also ask permission to collect information from your medical notes about your cancer.

Hospital visits

As the study procedure happens during your surgery, you will not need to make any extra hospital visits to take part.

Side effects

It is possible that you may have an allergic reaction to the dye used to show up your sentinel nodes. If this happens, the staff looking after you will give you medication to treat it.

You can find out more about surgery for different women’s cancers in the individual section for each cancer type.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Ahmed Ahmed

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Oxford Cancer Imaging Centre
University of Oxford

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Cara took part in a clinical trial

A picture of Cara

"I am glad that taking part in a trial might help others on their own cancer journey.”

Last reviewed:

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