Doctor sheds some light on a quick cure for skin cancer

Daily express April 2, 1996

A PORTABLE lamp which kills cancer cells it?. 45 minutes could soon be useti to treat and cure thousands of skin cancer patients.

The device, the size of a toaster, has had a startling success rate, curing more than 90 per cent of the most common, non-fatal types of skin cancer.

Treatment is simple and pain­less — patients can sit and read a book or just relax while doctors shine a red light on to the skin cancer lesion.

A trial of more than 150 patients with early skin cancer saw symptoms clear up completely, within a few weeks of a single session.

Doctors are so encouraged by the results that they are planning further tests for brain, breast, gullet, prostate, bowel and gynaecological cancers, and the skin disease psoriasis. Skin cancer is one of the commonest cancers in Britain and cases have doubled in the last decade.

Dr Colin Whitehurst, who invented the lamp, said although it acted in a similar way to a laser, it   used   a   different,   intense, concentrated light source. A light sensitive drug, Tike a moisturiser, is rubbed into the skin around the cancer four hours before treatment with the lamp.

Once the drug is absorbed in the target area, a flexible tube guides  an arc of concentrated light on to the cancerous skin. "Both the drug and the lamp are non-toxic and safe," said Dr Whitehurst. "This device can go to the patient rather than the patient having to come into hospital for a few days of treatment with a large laser."

He spent five years developing the lamp at the Paterson Institute at Manchester's Christie Hospital.

Daily Express reader Walter Keddie, of Ayr, is one of the first patients to be treated with it. "I'm like a new man," he said. The Cancer Research Campaign predicted the British invention, which should be available within a year, would save the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds.

At the moment, lasers are used to treat some skin cancers, but cost more than £100,000 each and not every hospital can afford one.

The Paterson lamp will cost around £10,000 and can be moved.