A trial of white light or blue light surgery for people with bladder cancer (PHOTO)

Cancer type:

Bladder cancer




Phase 3

This trial is comparing a white light with a blue light during surgery for people who have been recently diagnosed with early bladder cancer.

Doctors usually treat early bladder cancer with surgery to remove the tumours. This surgery is called a transurethral resection of bladder tumour or TURBT. The surgeon looks inside the bladder using a telescope called a cystoscope. They shine a white light through the telescope to see the cancer and remove it.

In this trial, the researchers want to test using a blue light during surgery alongside a liquid that is put into the bladder. The liquid is absorbed by the cancer cells and glows red under the blue light. This may help them to see the areas of cancer more clearly and remove it.

The aim of the trial is to compare the blue light with the standard white light to find out which is better at showing up areas of cancer in the bladder.

You may not get any direct benefit from taking part in this trial, but it may help people with early bladder cancer in the future.

Who can enter

You may be able to join this trial if all of the following apply. You

  • Have recently been told that your doctors suspect you have early stage bladder cancer that hasn’t grown into the muscle wall (stage Ta or T1)
  • Have a medium to high risk of your bladder cancer coming back (the trial team can advise you about this)
  • Are at least 16 years old

You cannot join this trial if any of these apply.

  • You have already had surgery to remove your bladder cancer
  • Your bladder cancer has grown through the muscle wall of the bladder or further (T2, T3 or T4 bladder cancer)
  • You have a low risk of your cancer coming back (the trial team can advise you about this)
  • You have only one small area of cancer measuring less than 3cm across
  • Your cancer is also in either kidney or the tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder (ureters)
  • You have a condition called porphyria or you are known to be very sensitive to porphyrins (the trial team can tell you more about what they are)
  • You have had any other cancer in the last 2 years, apart from certain very early stage cancers (the trial team can advise you about this)
  • You have any other condition that could affect you taking part in this trial
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding

Trial design

The researchers need 533 people to join this randomised trial. You are put into 1 of 2 groups by a computer. Neither you nor your doctor can decide which group you are in.

  • People in one group have surgery with the standard white light
  • People in the other group have a surgery with the blue light

PHOTO trial diagram

Everyone taking part will have surgery to remove the tumours from their bladder. The people in the white light group have surgery as usual.

The people in the blue light group have a liquid called HAL put into their bladder through a fine tube called a catheter 1 hour before surgery. You will be asked not to pass urine for an hour to give the HAL time to work. You then go on to have your surgery with the blue light.

If you agree to take part in this trial, the researchers may ask for extra blood samples, urine samples and samples of your cancer (a biopsy Open a glossary item). These samples will be stored safely and used only for research. They may help researchers to learn more about bladder cancer and how to treat it. If you don’t wish to give these extra samples for research, you don’t have to. You can still take part in the trial.

The trial team will ask you to fill out a questionnaire at set times during the trial. The questionnaires will ask about side effects and how you’ve been feeling. This is called a quality of life study.

Hospital visits

You go to hospital for your surgery and will need to stay in for a few days afterwards. You will see the doctor for routine check ups after surgery. But you won’t have any extra hospital visits as a result of taking part in this trial.

Side effects

The side effects of HAL are rare, and include

  • Headache
  • Feeling sick
  • Constipation or diarrhoea

The trial team will explain the risks of having surgery to you.


Newcastle upon Tyne

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Mr Rakesh Heer

Supported by

Clinical Trials and Statistics Unit at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR-CTSU)
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
Newcastle University
The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
University of Aberdeen

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Wendy took part in a new trial studying the possible side effect of hearing loss

A picture of Wendy

"I was delighted to take part in a clinical trial as it has the potential to really help others in the future.”

Last reviewed:

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