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Scientists unveil new skin cancer treatment

A new form of cancer treatment could allow patients with certain forms of skin cancer to be treated in doctors' surgeries or at home.

Scottish scientists have developed a battery-powered patch which emits light to activate anti-cancer creams applied to the skin.

At present, patients are required to spend several hours in a special cubicle in hospital, where photodynamic therapy treatment (PDT) is administered using a large light source.

Professor Ifor Samuel, a physicist from St Andrews University, said that he and Professor James Ferguson, who is head of photobiology at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, had adapted the existing technology to develop a "compact light source".

The patch is a low-cost, portable and convenient method of cancer treatment, according to Professor Ferguson, who predicts the device will have "a major impact on treatment of skin cancers".

"Our initial pilot trials have already shown its effectiveness and patients are requesting this treatment over conventional methods," he told the Scotsman.

"We have tried it on more than 20 patients so far and the results are comparable with standard hospital photodynamic treatment."

The professors hope that the patches will be widely available within the next two years.

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