A study looking at a new device to help surgeons know if they have removed all the breast cancer

Cancer type:

Breast cancer





This study looked at a device called Cerenkov Luminescence Imaging (CLI) Specimen Analyser to help surgeons tell if they have removed all of the cancer. 

More about this trial

Surgery is one of the main treatments for breast cancer. The aim of surgery is to remove all the cancer from the breast and any lymph nodes that may be affected. 
Research had shown that a radioactive tracer used in scans such as PET scans gives off small amounts of light. As cancer cells take in more of the tracer than normal cells, they give off more light. 
The CLI Specimen Analyser is a device that could be used to see which cells are giving off more light. So it could help surgeons tell during the operation if they have removed all of the cancer or not. 
The aims of this study were to see whether:
  • CLI can help surgeons see all of the cancer during surgery
  • it would be useful to do a larger trial looking at CLI during breast surgery

Summary of results

The research team found that using the CLI Specimen Analyser during surgery could help surgeons see if they had removed all the cancer.

They recruited patients between 2014 and 2016, and published the results in 2017.

This study recruited 22 people altogether. They all had breast cancer and were due to have an operation to remove the cancer in their breast and lymph nodes.

Everyone taking part had an injection of a radioactive tracer called 18F-FDG, the same tracer used to detect cancer on PET scans. They then had their operation about 45 to 60 minutes later.

The research team altered the various settings on the CLI equipment during the operations for the first 10 people. This is called optimisation. They did this to make sure they could see the cancer cells as clearly as possible. The most accurate settings were then used during the operations for the next 12 people.

The surgeons could see the cancer cells using the CLI Specimen Analyser in 10 out of these 12 people. It is possible they didn’t see cancer in the other two people because it was too small. Or because it had been too long since the patient had had the 18F-FDG injection. 

The research team compared the results from the CLI Specimen Analyser with results from the laboratory (histopathology) and other scans. They also compared the results and conclusions from different doctors. They found they were similar.

The research team concluded that using 18F-FDG and the CLI Specimen Analyser during surgery for breast cancer could help them see if they had removed all of the cancer.

They suggest that a larger trial is done to find out more about how well it works. And whether it can help reduce the number of people who need a second operation.

We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

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 Arnie Purushotham

Supported by

Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust
King's College London
Lightpoint Medical Ltd

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.

Deborah wanted to help other breast cancer patients in the future

A picture of Deborah

“Deborah agreed to take part in a trial as she was keen to help other cancer patients in the future. "If taking part in a trial means others might be helped then I’m very happy with that."

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