Early prostate cancer can be treated with light therapy


2016-12-21 17:51

Researchers have found light therapy can be used to effectively treat early prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is a condition feared by men worldwide. The treatment for prostate cancer is often as troubling as the illness itself due to the potential for serious side effects. New research shows light therapy may offer hope for the treatment of prostate cancer.

Early prostate cancer can be effectively treated with light therapy

University College London reports early prostate cancer can be effectively treated with light therapy. This therapy is non-surgical and can effectively kill cancer cells without killing healthy tissue.

STEBA Biotech funded the test trial of light therapy for prostate cancer and has the commercial license for this treatment. A UCL led phase lll clinical trial was done on 413 patients. This treatment is called "vascular-targeted photodynamic therapy" or VTP. With VTP a light sensitive drug is injected into the bloodstream which is than activated with a laser to destroy tumor tissue which is in the prostate.

This treatment can kill cancer and yet it does not remove or destroy the prostate

In this study 49 percent of patients who were treated with VTP went into a complete remission in comparison with 13.5 percent who were in the control group. Lead investigator Professor Mark Emberton, who is Dean of UCL Medical Sciences and a Consultant Urologist at UCLH, says these results are really good news for men who have localized prostate cancer. This treatment can kill cancer and yet it does not remove or destroy the prostate.

At this time men who have prostate cancer which is low-risk are kept under "active surveillance" during which time
the cancer is monitored and it is only treated when it becomes very severe. Radical therapy involves surgically removing or irradiating the entire prostate. This has significant long-term side effects and therefore it is only used to treat cancers which are high-risk.

There are lifelong erectile problems with radical therapy

There are lifelong erectile problems with radical therapy and about one in five patients also get incontinence. Yet with VTP there are just short-term urinary and erectile problems which resolve within about three months. There were not any significant side-effects after two years.

In this study only 6 percent of the patients who were treated with VTP required radical therapy in comparison with 30 percent of patients who were in the control group and who were being kept under active surveillance. There was three times lower chance of prostate cancer progressing to a more dangerous stage for patients treated with VTP. Furthermore the average time to progression was doubled from 14 months to 28 months with VTP.

This study has been published in The Lancet Oncology. There has been favorable safety and efficacy results with vascular-targeted photodynamic tissue-preserving therapy for low-risk prostate cancer. This offers new hope for more men to be able to avoid radical therapy for prostate cancer.