A simpler way to check for the spread of breast cancer

Dr Anna Morrow - Nelson Hospital
Dr Anna Morrow - Nelson Hospital
June 2017
Research Grant

What is the problem and who is affected?

When you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, the first thing your doctor wants to know is if it has spread to your lymph nodes – if so, you’ll need more aggressive treatment. There are two ways of finding cancer in the lymph nodes: a blue dye and and/or a radioactive compound. The blue dye can cause health problems, and the radioactive compound can only be used in a major cancer centre: patients often have to travel a long way, and spend more time in hospital.

What is this research hoping to achieve?

Breast Cancer Foundation NZ is funding a pilot – a joint venture between surgeons at Nelson and Auckland Hospitals – of an easier way to find cancer in the lymph nodes using a simple magnetic tracer. If the pilot’s successful, we hope surgeons around New Zealand will adopt this new, safe and cost-effective method of checking for cancer in the lymph nodes.