Last year in the UK over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials aimed at improving cancer treatments and making them available to all.
A trial of photodynamic therapy for biliary tree cancer (PHOTOSTENT 01)
This trial was looking at photodynamic therapy (PDT) for biliary tree cancer (bile duct cancer or gallbladder cancer).
Bile duct cancers (cholangiocarcinoma) and gallbladder cancers are known together as biliary tree cancers. If it is not possible to remove these cancers with surgery, or they have spread to other parts of the body, they can be very difficult to treat. But doctors are looking for new ways to control the symptoms of biliary tree cancer.
In this trial, they looked at photodynamic therapy to treat the symptoms of biliary tree cancers. When you have PDT, you take a drug which makes your cells more sensitive to light. About 48 hours later, the doctors shine a laser light onto your cancer cells.
Earlier clinical trials had suggested that PDT could help people with bile duct cancer. In this trial, the researchers wanted to learn more about the safety of PDT and how well it worked as a treatment for biliary tree cancer that could not be removed with surgery.
Summary of results
The researchers found that they could safely give photodynamic therapy (PDT) for biliary tree cancer.
The trial recruited 36 people. They had all been diagnosed with biliary tree cancer in the previous 8 weeks and could not have surgery to remove their cancer. They’d already had a small tube called a stent put into their
Everybody taking part had photodynamic therapy. The most common side effect was mild tummy (abdominal) pain, which 17 people had. Five people had an infection after the treatment but nobody had very bad side effects.
The researchers were able to look at scan results for 23 people in the trial. These showed that
- In 11 people the cancer had stayed the same size - doctors call this
- 1 person’s cancer had got a bit smaller – this is called a
- In the other 11 people, the cancer had got worse
Because PDT could be given safely and seemed to help some people with biliary tree cancer, the trial team set up another trial looking at PDT for this type of cancer. This other trial has now finished recruiting patients.
We have based this summary on information from the team who ran the trial. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (
How to join a clinical trial
Dr Steve Pereira
Axcan Pharma Inc
Cancer Research UK
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
University College London (UCL)