Scientists from the University of Sheffield have discovered that MRI scans, which are usually used to detect cancer in the body, could be used to direct tumour killing treatments in areas of the body which are difficult to reach.

Researchers used the magnetic power of MRI scans to control the movement of a specially designed injectable cancer treatment. While trials are in the early stages, it is hoped that the treatment could revolutionise the way doctors treat cancers that are difficult to remove using surgery, including brain and spine cancers and cancer that has spread around the body.

Early trials in mice with prostate cancer which had spread to the lung proved successful. A special cancer medicine that had been ‘magnetised’ by scientists was injected into the mice and, once injected, researchers were able to use the magnets in the MRI scanner to control where the drug travelled.

While further studies are required, the team of researchers believe the technique is particularly promising as it combines equipment and treatments that are already readily available.

Michael Burrell, a clinical negligence solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors' Birmingham, said: “While this treatment method is clearly in the very early stages, it is an exciting prospect that could prove to be effective. Early treatment is key to treating any type of cancer, but so too is targeting.

“The UK has a reputation to be proud of in this kind of innovative cancer research, but cancer services in the UK for those having treatment today should also be world class and they aren’t. To achieve that requires a government commitment to proper financial resourcing of staff, staff training and equipment. Only in that way will there be an improvement in cancer survival rates for today’s patients meaning that the UK can be truly proud of its complete response to the disease.”