New Treatment Scheme Shows Promise For Prostate And Pancreatic Cancer
Photodynamic therapy, a combination between certain drugs and laser light, can destroy cancer cells, but nowadays it can be only used to treat skin cancer. Internal tumors can not be treated with this type of therapy because there is no proper technique that can specify the exact amount of laser light that must be administrated in order to destroy them. Researchers from Lund University, Sweden are developing a software which can resolve this problem.
“I think we are about to see a real breakthrough, both for us and for other research groups around the world who conduct research on cancer treatment using laser light”, says Johannes Swartling, Doctor of Atomic Physics at Lund University.
This particular software comes with some unique features: it uses optical fibers that are not only emitting light, but are also able to gather information about the size, level of invasion of the tumor, information that is sent back to the computer to which the laser instrument is connected. This means that the software is continually calculating the optimal dose of laser light that can be adjusted if necessary. The goal of the treatment is to remove the entire cancer mass without damaging the surrounding tissue. The software can be also associated with therapies that are using other types of light like LED or infra-red light.
The photodynamic therapy was tested in Sweden on patients with prostate cancer demonstrating that it can work on internal tumors. In the spring of this year in Canada and in the USA a clinical study on patients with recurrent prostate cancer will begin. The same photodynamic therapy is used in the UK on patients with pancreatic cancer.
The scientists pointed out that laser light therapy appears to have minimum side effects, unlike conventional therapy for prostate cancer that presents a risk for impotence and urinary incontinence and higher cancer recurrence risk.
The main goal was to adjust the dosage of laser light that can ensure an effective and positive result for cancer patients for whom conventional cancer treatment schemes present major limitations.
Photodynamic Therapy Mechanism Of Action
Before starting the procedure, the patient receives a drug which has effect only in the presence of light, called light-activated drug. This drug will spread throughout the body and will reach the area where the tumor is located. After this procedure, the patient will be anesthetized and the surgeon will insert in the area where the tumor is located, some needles that contains optical fibers. When this optical fibers come into contact with the light-activated-drug, a reaction with the surrounding oxygen takes place, which is indispensable for the intense metabolism of cancer cells, depriving them of oxygen and therefore killing them.