Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial looking at a magnetic tracer to find the lymph nodes that melanoma may spread to (MELAMAG)
More about this trial
Lymph nodes drain fluid from all tissues of the body. Cancer cells can spread to these lymph nodes. The
Doctors look for and remove the sentinel lymph nodes to see if they contain cancer cells. This is called a sentinel lymph node biopsy.
To find the sentinel lymph nodes, you have an injection of a blue dye and radioactive tracer into the area close to the melanoma. You have this as an operation while you are under a
Researchers in this trial developed a magnetic tracer and a magnetic detector to find the sentinel lymph nodes. So no radiation was needed.
They thought the magnetic tracer and detector might be just as good as the blue dye and radioactive tracer. In this trial the doctor used both ways to detect the sentinel lymph nodes.
Summary of results
The trial team found it was possible to use the magnetic tracer and detector to find the sentinel lymph nodes in people with melanoma.
133 people took part and the researchers were able to look at the results of 129.
The team looked at how many people had sentinel lymph nodes identified by each method. They found it was:
- 126 people (97.7%) for the blue dye and radioactive method
- 123 people (95.3%) for the magnetic tracer and detector method
The most common side effect of each method was staining of the skin:
- blue for the blue dye and radioactive method
- black for the magnetic tracer and detector method
The black staining occurred more often than the blue staining.
The trial team concluded the trial didn’t show the magnetic tracer and detector method to be any worse than the blue dye and radioactive method. But there was worse skin staining from the magnetic tracer and detector method.
So there is no reason to suggest using the magnetic tracer and detector to find sentinel lymph nodes of melanoma at the present.
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Mr Michael Douek
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust
King's College London
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
Technology Strategy Board (Now: Innovate UK)