Visualization with a fluorescent dye successful in tracing papillary thyroid cancer lymph node metastases

Researchers at the UMCG have been able to detect metastatic cancer cells in the lymph nodes in thyroid cancer using a fluorescent dye. This was shown by the study from the research group of oncological surgeon Schelto Kruijff. He started in 2017 with a study to visualize metastatic cancer cells in the treatment of thyroid cancer. For this study he received a grant from the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF).

Their study showed that the gene MET was increased in thyroid cancer. To visualize this gene the researchers attached a fluorescent label to this specific gene. Together with Erasmus MC, the researchers set up another study in which they administered the fluorescent tracer to 19 patients to see whether the metastases could be made visible using this technique. It appears that the luminescent substance (EMI-137) is not only safe, but also extremely successful in making the metastases of papillary thyroid carcinoma visible. The group would like to move on to the next phase where this tracer can really be used as standard in the operative environment.

The study is very important, because metastases in the lymph nodes are common in both thyroid cancer and other types of cancer. Until now, it was often unclear during surgery which of these lymph nodes contained cancer cells. As a result, large numbers of glands are often removed with all the associated chances of complications. Kruijff's study contributes to better mapping of these metastatic cancer cells in lymph nodes in the future.