Alternative laser treatment could cure cancer

A new laser treatment to cure cancer could provide an alternative to radiotherapy and surgery.

Experts suggest a new laser treatment, called photodynamic therapy (PDT), could cure cancer without the distress of radical surgery or chemotherapy after showing staggering results.

Referred to as the fourth weapon in the battle against cancer, alongside surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, PDT has primarily been used to treat cancers of the skin, head and neck, but trials are underway to test it’s ability to cure pancreatic, prostate and bone cancer.

Colin Hopper, a consultant in head and neck surgery at University College London hospital said, ‘If you can get a needle to the tumour, you can treat it with a non thermal laser and the results in some cases are staggering.’

‘It doesn’t involve surgery, it doesn’t have any lasting effects like radiotherapy and it doesn’t make you feel ill or have an effect on your immune system like chemotherapy,’ he added.

University College London hospital has successfully treated around 1,700 patients using PDT and is responsible for 80% of all PDT treatment for head and neck cancer in England.

The laser treatment is used in conjunction with a photosensitive drug, which together alter oxygen molecules in a way that causes them to overwhelm and destroy cancerous cells.

PDT has already been approved by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence for conditions including some skin, neck, head and lung cancers and could be made available to an initial 45,000 patients a year.

Alison Curnow, a principle investigator in clinical photobiology, said, ‘PDT is a 21st-century treatment that has the opportunity to change people’s lives. We’re now at a turning point and it’s very exciting.’

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