According to a statement, the NICE medical technology guidance recommended Magtrace, a magnetic liquid tracer, and the detection tool Sentimag as an option to detect sentinel lymph nodes in breast cancer patients.
The use of the new technology may reduce reliance on imported radioactive isotope tracers.
Magtrace is a non-radioactive dark brown liquid that is used as a magnetic marker and visual dye. It is injected into the tissue around a tumour, following which it is absorbed into the lymphatic system.
The liquid follows the way in which cancer cells usually spread.
The Sentimag operates in a similar way to a metal detector. The probe moves over the skin and transmits sounds of different pitches as it passes over the Magtrace tracer.
Once a sentinel lymph node is identified, the surgeon takes out the node for biopsy. The nodes are usually dark brown or black in colour, which also facilitates identification.
If the biopsy determines the presence of cancerous cells, the surgeon may remove additional lymph nodes during the process or during a follow-up procedure.
NICE’s independent medical technologies advisory committee expects the process to be as effective as detecting sentinel lymph nodes using conventional practices. The conclusion is based on available evidence.
The procedure is also expected to benefit surgeons working in hospitals with limited or no access to a radiopharmacy department.
However, the technology has some side effects, including skin staining.
MedTech acting director and NICE digital Jeanette Kusel said: “People with breast cancer want to know if their cancer has been isolated or has spread to the rest of their body. The earlier this is established, the better the potential outcomes will be.”
The draft guidance will be open for public consultation until 16 June.