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Cancer patch hope

30th October 2006

Scottish scientists have developed a new portable light source to treat common skin cancers.

Currently, patients are treated with large, intense light sources in hospitals to activate anti-cancer creams, but the new light-emitting ‘sticking plaster’ is powered by a small battery pack, and would allow patients to be treated in GP surgeries or at home.

The metallic plaster contains its own light source - an organic light-emitting diode. Light is emitted when a low voltage electric current passes through it. It is adapted from photodynamic therapy treatment (PDT), which requires patients to lie under a light for several hours in a special cubicle.

Like conventional PDT, the ‘sticking plaster’ is only suitable for less serious non-melanoma cancers. More dangerous, melanoma skin cancer has to be treated with surgery, radiotherapy and sometimes chemotherapy.

Initial pilots have shown it works and patients are already requesting it over more conventional methods. The team, from St Andrews University and Dundee's Ninewells Hospital, now hope to market their product.

It's inventors say it could have a number of other applications, as an anti-ageing treatment and to improve skin conditions such as acne.


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