London: A light-emitting sticking plaster, which could be used at home at a cost of just GBP 100, could now potentially help thousands of people diagnosed with skin cancer.
The high-tech device, Ambulight, contains photodynamic therapy (PDT) that combines with a light-sensitive drug to destroy cancer cells, reports the Daily Mail.
Less painful than surgery, the plaster leaves no scar and reduces the amount of time patients need to spend in hospital.
Photosensitising cream is rubbed on to the skin, and the Ambulight is attached to the skin with a plaster. The cream takes three hours to penetrate the skin, then the pod turns on. Three hours later the light switches off and the device can be disposed of. Patients can move freely during treatment.
The machine costs just GBP 100 - about half the price of the average hospital outpatient appointment.
PDT treatment is used to treat non-melanoma-type skin cancers - basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas.
Ambulight developer James Ferguson, professor of dermatology at Dundee University, hopes the treatment will eventually be offered at GP surgeries.
“Trials have shown it to be up to 90 percent as effective as hospital treatment and it`s a lot gentler,” he said.
Muriel Lowe, 59, underwent the treatment after being diagnosed with a basal cell carcinoma in February last year.
“I noticed a pink patch around the size of a 5p piece above my left breast. It wasn`t painful. My GP referred me immediately to Prof Ferguson`s clinic, where I had a biopsy,” she added.
“They explained I was eligible for this new treatment that would just involve wearing a sticking plaster. The nurse rubbed cream into the area and then attached the contraption. After that, I went for lunch, and after three hours, it turned itself on,” said Lowe.
“There was a slight niggling pain, but nothing I couldn`t handle. After three hours it turned off, and I returned to the hospital where they took it off and checked there hadn`t been any bad reactions,” she added.
A week later, Lowe had her second treatment. After three months she returned for tests and was told the cancer had gone.
The Ambulight plaster has just received a European license and is now being rolled out to NHS hospitals nationwide.