Sticking plaster that zaps skin cancer

January 23rd, 2011 - 9:14 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 23 (IANS) A revolutionary light-emitting sticking plaster can help zap skin cancers. The device, called the Ambulight, is a form of photodynamic therapy (PDT) - an alternative to surgery for many forms of skin cancer - using laser, combined with a light-sensitive drug to destroy cancer cells.

PDT treatment avoids the scarring associated with surgical removal of the tumour and the need for a hospital stay. It consists of a disc-shaped pod about an inch across that houses medical-grade red LED lights. The light source is attached to a controller the size of a mobile phone, the Daily Mail reports.

Photosensitising cream is rubbed on to the skin, and the pod is attached to the skin with a plaster.

The cream takes three hours to penetrate the skin, then the pod turns on. Three hours later the light switches off and the device can be disposed of. Patients can move freely during treatment.

Ambulight’s developer James Ferguson, professor of dermatology at Britain’s Dundee University, hopes the treatment will eventually be offered at surgeries.

“Trials have shown it to be up to 90 percent as effective as hospital treatment and it’s a lot gentler,” he says.

The Ambulight plaster has just received a European licence and is now being rolled out to hospitals in Britain.

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