Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a cancer treatment, that involves a photosensitizing agent being injected into the bloodstream. The agent is absorbed by cells all over the body but stays in cancer cells longer than it does in normal cells. The tumour is exposed to light. The photosensitizer in the tumour absorbs the light and produces an active form of oxygen that destroys nearby cancer cells.
In addition to directly killing cancer cells, PDT appears to shrink or destroy tumours in two other ways. The photosensitizer can damage blood vessels in the tumour, thereby preventing the cancer from receiving necessary nutrients. PDT also may activate the immune system to attack the tumour cells.
The Royal Free London is the first hospital in the world to conduct a clinical trial to establish whether PDT can used to treat primary breast cancer.
Currently the Royal Free London is at the first stage of this clinical trial, therefore we are only offering this treatment as an additional therapy to patients who are going to undergo a mastectomy. In the future we hope to treat breast cancer patients with this technology as an alternative to surgery if the results of this trial is successful.