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New method makes it easier to treat prostate and pancreatic cancer
Date:2/15/2012

Laser light in combination with certain drugs known as photodynamic therapy can destroy cancer tumours, but is today used mostly to cure skin cancer. The reason that internal tumours are not treated with the method is that the technology does not exist to check that the precise amount of light is administered. However, software developed by researchers in atomic physics at Lund University in Sweden looks like being able to solve the problem.

"I think we are about to see a real breakthrough, both for us and for other research groups around the world who conduct research on cancer treatment using laser light", says Johannes Swartling, Doctor of Atomic Physics at Lund University and Chief Technical Officer at SpectraCure, the company that is now developing the software.

The software's unique feature is that it uses the optical fibres for more than simply emitting light. Intermittently they also gather information about the tumour, which they send back to the laser instrument.

"In this way, the software can continually calculate the optimal light dose and adjust it if necessary. The entire tumour must be removed, while damage to adjacent organs must be avoided", says Johannes Swartling.

According to the researchers, the software could also be used with other light therapies that use LEDs or infra-red lasers.

Tests on prostate cancer patients in Sweden have shown that the method also works for internal tumours, and in the spring a clinical study on recurrent prostate cancer will begin in the US and Canada. An application for approval to carry out the study is pending. Meanwhile, the same laser light technology is being tested in the UK on pancreatic cancer.

"The advantage of laser light is that it appears that side effects can be minimised. With current treatment methods, prostate cancer patients who are cured risk both impotence and incontinence."

In addition, traditional treatments entail a
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Contact: Stefan Andersson-Engels
Stefan.Andersson-Engels@fysik.lth.se
46-462-223-121
Lund University
Source:Eurekalert

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