British experts are seeking to raise awareness of Photodynamic Therapy (PDT). It is a type of laser treatment to remove unwanted tissues, including solid tumours. The procedure involves putting a non-toxic dye on the affected area, before shining a high intensity light on the tissue to destroy it.
Campaigners want PDT to be accepted as mainstream alternative to surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Professor Keyvan Moghissi, Clinical Director of the Yorkshire Laser Centre has teamed up with other specialists to launch a charitable trust for the purpose.
AdvertisementProfessor Keyvan Moghissi, a laser pioneer said: "PDT offers a real 'ray of hope' for a large number of cancer patients and should have equal status as a treatment alongside chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.
"Leaders in this field from across the UK decided they needed to form a specialist group to raise the profile of PDT within the NHS consistently across the UK and to collaborate to attract funding for future research on a coordinated national basis which will support advances in such areas as personalised drugs (dyes) and techniques that could revolutionise cancer treatment." And hence the UK PDT Charitable Trust, he said.
The laser treatment is another option for patients, helping them avoid invasive surgery, as also the side effects associated with strong radiation and chemical therapies.
Research is currently under way to develop better dyes and by specific targeting of diseased tissue to achieve the ultimate goal of personalised cancer treatment.
This involves loading antibodies generated from samples of a patient's unique tumour with PDT dyes to treat the patient.
Not all tumours can be treated by the laser treatment as each type of cancer needs specific drugs with specific dyes and not all have been developed yet.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has issued guidance on a number of cancers for which PDT can be used.
In the case of non-melanoma skin tumours, Nice said there were 'no major safety concerns' about the treatment.
Guidance on advanced oesophageal cancer meanwhile states: 'Current evidence on the safety and efficacy of palliative photodynamic therapy for advanced oesophageal cancer is of poor quality but appears adequate to support the use of this procedure to relieve symptoms in patients with a poor prognosis.'
Possible complications identified included skin photosensitivity, Nice said.
But people with brain tumours are not recommended to have the procedure unless in the context of trials because of 'limited' evidence on its safety and efficacy, according to Nice guidance.