NICE has published new guidelines recommending use of a chemical dye to assist neurosurgeons in removing brain tumours.

The dye, 5-amino levulinic acid (5-ALA), is a drink taken by patients before surgery that causes tumour cells to glow pink under ultra violet light.

The late MP Tessa Jowell, who passed away in May after battling glioblastoma, urged the government to make 5-ALA available across the NHS to improve tumour removal.

According to NICE, each of England’s 27 neurosurgical units is expected to have an average of around 55 patients requiring 5-ALA per year, at an estimated annual cost to the NHS of up to £5 million a year.

Around 11,000 people are diagnosed with a brain tumour each year in the UK, and about a third of these would benefit from this new technology, the Institute noted.

“This guidance and the roll out of 5-ALA – which we hope to see implemented in a timely manner at those units who don’t currently have access to it – will greatly improve patient experience,” said Professor Mark Baker, director for the centre for guidelines at NICE.

The new guidelines also recommend that patients are offered targeted radiotherapy to reduce the risk of damage to the rest of the brain, and that patients are referred for neurological rehabilitation assessment of physical, cognitive, and emotional function during all stages of treatment.

However, the NHS should not offer tumour treating fields (TTF) as part of management of recurrent high-grade glioma because they are not cost effective, NICE stressed.