Light-based treatment could offer new hope for prostate cancer patients

A new non-surgical light-based therapy has shown potential in early cases of prostate cancer.

The phase III clinical trial of a new technique called vascular-targeted photodynamic therapy, led by researchers at University College London, involves injecting a light-sensitive drug into the bloodstream and activating it with a laser which destroys tumour tissue in the prostate.

The method was trialled in 413 patients. 49% of patients treated went into complete remission, while just 13.5% of the control group went into remission.

Radical therapy such as surgical removal or irradiation of the prostate is currently the main way of treating prostate cancer. These approaches can lead to problems such as erectile dysfunction or incontinence. 

The light-based therapy, on the other hand, targets tumours precisely, reducing the risk of side effects and allowing low-risk patients who would not normally be treated to benefit from the approach. 

Lead investigator Professor Mark Emberton, Dean of University College London Medical Sciences, said: “The success of this new tissue-preserving treatment is welcome news indeed.”