New Imaging Technique Hopes To Combat Deadly Neuroblastoma

A new cancer trial was announced today by Cancer Research UK’s CDD (Centre for Drug Development). The trial is to take place in collaboration with the Rising Tide Foundation, a non-profit making Swiss-based organization that provides funding for cancer trials. The trial which is to be carried out at the Royal Marsden and University College (London) could revolutionise the way in which a deadly form of child cancer is diagnosed.

Neuroblastoma affects a relatively small number of children each year in the UK aged mainly under five years of age and despite an increase in survival rates over the last 20 years, remains an aggressive and difficult disease to treat. At present, multiple scans are carried out in order to establish just how aggressive a tumour is and to decide on the best course of treatment. This process can be very distressing especially for young children and it is often necessary to carry out the scans under a general anaesthestic.

One of the scans used is a planar scintigraphy scan. This involves the child being injected with radioactive iodine tracer ([123I]mIBG) which the neuroblastoma cells absorb, making them visible to the scan. In the new trial, participants will be given a different radioactive tracer ([124I]mIBG) which although clinical the same as [123I]mIBG produces a different kind of radiation that can be picked up by a PET/CT scan. The new scan will provide doctors with a much more accurate three dimensional image which will enable them to pinpoint just where the cancer has spread or grown.

It is hoped that the new scan will mean fewer multiple scans for patients in the future and that it will enable doctors to see how effective treatments have been, enabling them to choose patients who might be suitable for new clinical drug trials. If the trial is successful, the new technique could be available to children with both in the UK and abroad.

It is hoped that by offering children just one scan instead of multiple scans, much of the stress would be removed from diagnosis whilst still giving doctors the information they need to choose the best course of treatment in each case. In many cases, the most aggressive form of the disease is not spotted until conventional therapy has failed. It’s hoped that the ability to diagnose the condition earlier will mean that treatment can be adjusted accordingly and that more lives can be saved.

Cancer Research UK is currently funding trials into a variety of new treatments for neuroblastoma and it is hoped that there will be many more options available for sufferers and their families in the future.


Alison Page

About Alison Page

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