PDT - Photodynamic Therapy Explained
PDT is an incredibly simple, quick and highly effective way to destroy target cells – often cancers but not exclusively.
PDT works by combining drug and light. There are several different drugs in use – all are based on chlorophyll and several still feature compounds originally extracted from plant life. One of the newest originates from deep-water seaweed.
When light of a specific wavelength combines with the drug in the target tissue, the reaction changes the oxygen molecule that feeds the cells. Without oxygen, cells rapidly die.
PDT is often able to destroy all the target cells with one treatment session, and the side effects are slight compared to those endured by patients having chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
PDT is also, in examples such as Barrett’s Oesophagus, mouth, skin and prostate cancer, is an alternative to major, often disfiguring surgery.
The ‘worst’ side effect encountered with two of the PDT drugs is a period where the skin becomes light sensitive, making it essential for the patients to avoid sunlight for a matter of weeks. This is the case with the treatments for bile duct, lung and head and neck cancers.
But it is not the case with the Metvix skin cancer drug which is applied locally to the area of the cancer. With the breast, pancreatic and prostate treatments, the light sensitivity issue is usually only for a matter of hours.
There is good news with the lung / bile duct drug. An antidote now being tested reduces this light sensitivity to just days.
Despite the compelling evidence of its efficacy, PDT remains woefully under-funded in the UK. As you will read, there is huge potential to develop PDT, but not the funds to do so.
We are lobbying intensively to MPs and the Department of Health, but not making the progress we feel that is justified. We hope that this campaign will help to change all that!
There is also an acute lack of awareness of the treatment among the patient community. It is for that reason we have a Patient Leaflet being distributed via GP surgeries and other routes.
Killing Cancer seeks to raise funds for extensive trials across a range of cancers. With your assistance we can help kill cancer.
We will continue to update this website, and look forward to being your key source of PDT information.
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