Laser rays and a photosensitive drug help against prostate cancer
Researchers found that a new treatment can effectively kill prostate cancer cells. The healthy tissue is still preserved. The treatment does not require any surgical intervention.
Scientists at University College London Hospital (UCHL) found in an investigation that vascular-targeted photodynamic therapy (VTP) kills prostate cancer cells without the need for surgery. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "The Lancet Oncology".
Combined treatment with laser beams and medication leads to success
The current clinical study has shown that treatment with a light-sensitive drug that is injected into the bloodstream can be used with a laser to eradicate the tumor tissue in the prostate, the authors explain. The drug, called WST11, comes from bacteria from the lower regions of the ocean. The bacteria can convert light into energy very efficiently. This feature was used to develop WST11. The drug is capable of killing cancer cells by releasing free radicals when activated by laser light, the scientists say.
Result a huge success
Complete remission occurred in 49 percent of patients treated with VTP. In the control group, the value was only 13.5 percent for comparison, the researchers explain. This result is really a huge success for the treatment of prostate cancer. In the UK alone, just under 11,000 men die of the disease annually. Prostate cancer is diagnosed there daily in 130 men.
Removal or radiation often leads to erectile dysfunction and incontinence
Only six percent of all patients in the study needed radical therapy. 30 percent of patients were usually subjected to active surveillance. The radical therapy is only used in cancer patients at high risk and involves the removal or radiation of the entire prostate, the researchers explain. However, this could lead to considerable side effects. These include, for example, lifelong erectile dysfunction and incontinence.
Side effects of VTP treatment are short-term
VTP treatment also caused short-term urinary problems and erectile problems. However, these could be resolved within three months. After two years, there were no significant side effects, the researchers explain.
VTP treatment shows good results
In 1975, almost every case of breast cancer was still treated with a radical mastectomy. Since then the methods of treatment have improved considerably. For this reason, the entire breast is rarely removed today, the authors say. When treating prostate cancer, doctors still often remove or irradiate the entire prostate. The success of the new treatment method is therefore very good news. The patients who were treated with VTP were also three times less likely to get cancer, the scientists say.
New way of treatment is effective and safe
The study took place at 47 locations in ten European countries. The fact that the treatment has been so successfully performed by non-specialized centers in various health care systems is really remarkable, says author Professor Mark Emberton. New procedures are usually associated with a learning curve, but the lack of complications in the study suggests that this type of treatment is safe, effective, and relatively easy to scale. Technological advances could help to further improve the effectiveness of treatment in the future, Professor Emberton adds.
Treatment should lead to a significantly increased remission rate
Prostate cancer can be successfully identified with the help of MRI scans and targeted biopsies. This is a targeted approach to diagnosis and treatment. "This allows us to more accurately identify the men who benefit from using VTP," the authors explain. With this approach, treating physicians should, in their opinion, be able to achieve a significantly increased remission rate in the future. (as)