Surgery is the mainstay of treatment for patients with bone sarcoma. In order to achieve a cure, healthy tissue surrounding the tumour is also removed. Whilst this reduces the chances of the cancer returning, it can also result in added pain and disability for patients, impacting their quality of life in the longer-term. Advancements in surgical technology and technique offer the hope of improved outcomes for patients.

Recent developments have led to the introduction of fluorescence guided surgery (FGS), a technique which harnesses the emission of light to identify a tumour’s precise location and boundaries during surgical removal. This improves a surgeon’s ability to successfully remove the entire tumour, which can be identified as a ‘glowing’ area of tissue, decreasing the likelihood of any cancer cells remaining, while limiting the removal of too much healthy tissue.

An upcoming clinical trial, led by Mr Kenneth Rankin, a leading Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and bone sarcoma researcher, is looking to assess the effiectiveness of a particular fluorescent dye, indocyanine green or ‘ICG’, which can be given to patients safely before surgery and leads to the sarcoma tumour fluorescing green. The SarcoSIGHT trial will recruit 500 patients undergoing surgery for bone and soft tissue sarcoma, aiming to test whether the use of ICG in FGS can help to accurately identify the tumour, aid in complete removal and reduce the amount of healthy tissue removed.

In the meantime, Mr Rankin, alongside a group of expert researchers in the UK and from across the world, have come together with the shared goal of advancing these technologies further. They have acknowledged that FGS could lead to significant patient benefit both in terms of reducing local recurrences and reducing the long-term impact of surgery, however, there is a pressing need for collaborative research to improve this. Collectively, such advancements would allow for more effective surgery to be conducted in future clinical trials.

What are the aims of this research consortium?

A research consortium is a formal collaboration which unites researchers with shared expertise who are working towards common goals.

The ultimate aim of this recently awarded funding is to bring together pioneering researchers in the field of fluorescence guided surgery (FGS) as part of a research consortium, supporting them to accelerate advancements in the field.

Mr Rankin will be joined by surgeons, physicists, radiochemists and scientists from the UK, the Netherlands, Japan, Canada and the USA. All of these researchers are currently working on new technologies to improve bone sarcoma operations. By combining their efforts and pooling their expertise, they are aiming to speed up the introduction of such technologies to patient care, with the goal of more effective surgical treatment for patients.

How will this improve outcomes for patients with primary bone cancer?

As well as enduring gruelling treatment with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, primary bone cancer patients frequently undergo major, life-changing surgery, often leaving them with significant long-term pain and disability.

This consortium will bring together researchers from across the world who are working towards the technology needed to significantly improve the way these operations are performed. By joining forces, there is the potential for more rapid advancements, leading to more effective surgical treatment and limiting the impact of surgery on patients’ functional ability and quality of life.

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