"Light bandage" to treat skin cancer say researchers

In collaboration with the Press Association

Scottish researchers have developed a new light-emitting device, similar to a common sticking plaster, which could be used to treat non-melanoma skin cancer.

The device, the result of collaboration between St Andrews University and Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, combines an established treatment - photodynamic therapy - with new technology.

Skin cancers are often currently treated with light-activated creams which are applied to the skin. These have to be activated by large, intense hospital light sources, however.

The 'light bandage' relies on new radiant materials to create a portable method of treatment, potentially removing the therapy from hospitals to homes and surgeries.

"It can be worn by the patient in a similar way to a sticking plaster, while the battery is carried like an iPod," said professor Ifor Samuel of St Andrews University.

"By adapting the latest technology to an existing treatment method, we have developed a compact light source for treating common skin cancers."

Professor Samuel and fellow researcher professor James Ferguson of Ninewells Hospital are currently in talks with potential manufacturers about developing the device.

Josephine Querido, Cancer Research UK science information officer, said: "The results of this small study are promising.

"Treatment with this novel 'sticking plaster' technology was as effective as with conventional photodynamic therapy in the 22 patients treated, but it will need to be tested in larger numbers of patients before it becomes freely available in the clinic.

"Although still at an early stage, this technology could have the potential to improve the quality of life of patients being treated for non-melanoma skin cancer in the future."

Find out more about photodynamic therapy on our patient information site, CancerHelp UK