A novel diagnostic approach is being developed based on an ultrasensitive magnetometer probe technology developed at the University of South Australia and magnetic tracer that provides high imaging contrast in MRI.
Elective neck dissection is the current gold standard for the treatment of head and neck cancer. However, approximately 75% of patients undergoing elective neck dissection do not have regional metastases and are therefore exposed to the risks and postoperative morbidity of the procedure without any clinical benefit. There is therefore a clear need to decrease the incidence of unnecessary neck dissections, which is the ultimate objective of this interdisciplinary project.
Towards rapid clinical translation, its first research aim is the validation of a novel approach to identify sentinel lymph nodes using magnetic materials and detection technologies. The possibility to accurately carry out such procedures in head and neck cancer would be a very significant advance, which would directly improve patient care as well as reduce costs to the healthcare system. The second aim of the project will be to achieve proof -of-concept of a preoperative staging modality based on magnetic MRI tracer. Imaging-based preoperative detection of lymphatic metastases would allow the multi-disciplinary team to select and plan ahead for the most appropriate treatment algorithm for each patient.