British scientists from the Peninsula Medical School in Cornwall have made a breakthrough in cancer treatment by developing a modified photodynamic therapy (PDT) treatment that can destroy cancer cells without harming the surrounding tissue.
A cream is applied directly to skin cancers and pre-cancers, which naturally produces a photosensitive drug.
A few hours Later a red light is shone on the tumour, to activate the light sensitive compound, which stimulates cellular damage and the destruction of the tumour.
"PDT is very effective non-surgical treatment for certain types of dermatological cancers and precancers. It normally destroys the tumour without scarring or damage to surrounding healthy cells," said Dr. Alison Curnow from the Peninsula Medical School in Cornwall.
"Through years of research we have been able to develop a modified PDT treatment enabling for the first time for thicker nodular basal cell carcinomas to be treated effectively with a single PDT treatment. This is important, as this is a very common form of skin cancer," she added.
The researchers added iron chelator CP94 to the cream and found that the effects of PDT greatly improved and achieved greater reductions in tumour depth in tumours currently too thick to be treated easily by the non-enhanced form of this treatment.
Graham O'Neill, technical marketing director at Imerys Minerals in Cornwall was suffering from skin cancer and has experienced significant improvements with PDT.
"The treatment is extremely good. From a personal point of view it is much less unpleasant and seems to be more effective," said O'Neill
"It also treats quite a big area in one go, which means fewer treatments in the long run. The other issue with melanomas is that they keep coming back. With PDT I have found that they do not return as frequently and, when they do, they are far less severe," he said.