A study to look at a possible new way to diagnose cancer of the thyroid or salivary gland

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

Cancer type:

Head and neck cancers
Salivary gland cancer
Thyroid cancer





This study is using different types of MRI scans to gather information about growths on the thyroid or one of the glands that makes saliva (spit) that is under your ear (the parotid gland).

If you have a lump (nodule) on your thyroid, or on one of your salivary glands, the doctor may take a sample of cells and fluid. They use a needle biopsy for a thyroid lump, and a needle or core biopsy for the salivary gland lump. They then look at the sample under a microscope to see if there are any cancer cells.

But it can be difficult to get clear results and a proper diagnosis using biopsies. To make sure, you may need surgery to remove part of your thyroid, or part or all of your salivary gland. You may then need further surgery, or other treatment, depending on your situation.

Doctors in this study are looking at another possible way of studying these lumps, using scans similar to MRI scans. Diffusion weighted MRI (DWI) helps show up damaged tissue. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) looks at chemical changes linked to disease in body tissues. The aim of this study is to see how well these types of scan would work to

  • Improve diagnosis of thyroid and salivary gland lumps before surgery
  • Improve planning for surgery
  • Decrease the number of operations people need to have

Who can enter

This study is going on at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. If you have been referred to a specialist as this hospital, the study team will ask if you would like to take part, if you are waiting to have investigations into

  • A lump (nodule) in your thyroid gland or
  • A lump in the gland under your ear that makes spit (saliva Open a glossary item) (parotid lump)

If you have a lump in the salivary gland under your ear, you will automatically take part in the study if you would like to. If you have a thyroid biopsy, you will only take part if this shows that the lump is made up of cells called follicular cells.

You cannot take part in this study if you are not able to have MRI scans (for example you have metal or a pacemaker Open a glossary item in your body, or you are worried by being in small spaces).

Trial design

This study will recruit 46 people. Everyone will have the special study MRI scans (MRS and DWI scans). You will also give the team permission to study samples of healthy and abnormal tissue removed during any surgery you may have.

If you have a thyroid lump, you will have your scans before you have surgery to remove part of your thyroid. This surgery is the next part of your planned treatment, and will confirm your diagnosis.

If you have a lump in the salivary gland under your ear, you will have the study scans just before your routine MRI scan. You then also have any routine surgery planned for you.

The study team will look at your tissue samples to make sure that the correct part of your thyroid or salivary gland was scanned before your surgery. With your permission they would also like to study these samples when you have a diagnosis.

All through the study you stay under the care of your specialist team, as well as seeing the study team.

Hospital visits

If you have a thyroid lump, you will make an extra hospital visit for your scan. If you have a salivary gland lump, you will have the study scans when you come for your routine MRI scan. This will add an extra 10 minutes to your appointment.

Side effects

The team does not expect you to have any side effects from the study scans. You can find out more about the safety of MRI scans on CancerHelp UK.

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

Mr Piyush Jani

Supported by

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
University of Cambridge

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 6021

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

Around 1 in 5 people take part in clinical trials

3 phases of trials

Around 1 in 5 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK take part in a clinical trial.

Last reviewed:

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