A trial looking at a new way of locating the original area of breast cancer after surgery (GOLDSEED)

Cancer type:

Breast cancer





This trial looked at the use of tiny gold beads to show cancer specialists after surgery where the breast cancer used to be.

If you have surgery to remove cancer from your breast, you may also have a course of radiotherapy afterwards. This is to treat the area where your cancer was removed (the ‘tumour bed’). Studies have suggested that having stronger radiotherapy to the tumour bed may help to stop the breast cancer coming back. To do this, doctors need to outline the exact edges of the tumour bed. At the moment, they do this by looking at scans and notes from surgery, or by physical examination.

Researchers wanted to test a new way of marking the borders of the tumour bed with gold seeds. These are like tiny gold beads, with a hole in the middle. In this trial, surgeons stitched these seeds into the tumour bed after they removed the cancer from the breast. Because they were made of gold they showed up clearly on scans. So radiotherapists should be able to see the exact area they wanted to treat after surgery.

The aim of this trial was to see if gold seeds helped doctors to locate the tumour bed after breast cancer surgery.

Summary of results

The trial team found that it is possible to use gold seeds to help locate the tumour bed after breast cancer surgery.

51 women took part in this trial. They all had surgery to remove breast cancer followed by radiotherapy to the breast.

The researchers were able to insert gold seeds successfully into the tumour bed in 45 of the women. Of these 45 women

  • 38 had CT scans Open a glossary item to plan radiotherapy
  • 6 had optical imaging to plan radiotherapy
  • 1 withdrew from the study

The doctors could identify the gold seeds in 37 out of the 38 women who had CT scans to plan radiotherapy.

The trial team concluded that gold seeds did help doctors locate the tumour bed after breast cancer surgery.

We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. 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. 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

Dr Charlotte Coles

Supported by

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
National Institute for Health Research Cancer Research Network (NCRN)

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle - 868

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

Harriet wanted to try new treatments

A picture of Harriet

“I was keen to go on a clinical trial. I wanted to try new cancer treatments and hopefully help future generations.”

Last reviewed:

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