NICE recommends innovative technology to show if breast cancer has spread

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence has recommended that surgeons working in hospitals with limited or no access to a radiopharmacy
department could now use Magtrace and Sentimag as an option to locate sentinel lymph nodes in people with breast cancer.

The recommendation in draft NICE medical technology guidance could see a change in NHS standard care for the first time in years. The technology could also mitigate
the reliance on radioactive isotope tracers shipped in from outside Great Britain.

The magnetic liquid tracer – Magtrace – is a non-radioactive dark brown liquid. It is both a magnetic marker and a visual dye. The Magtrace is injected into the
tissue around a tumour. The particles are then absorbed into the lymphatic system, following the route that cancer cells are most likely to take when they spread
from the primary tumour and become trapped in sentinel lymph nodes.

The Sentimag probe moves over the skin emitting sounds of different pitches as it passes over the Magtrace tracer, in a similar way to a metal detector locating
metal in the ground. The nodes often appear dark brown or black in colour, which also helps with identification.