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Promising portable device for at-home skin cancer treatment

Monday October 4th 2021

A home device has been developed that can reduces pain levels during basal cell carcinoma treatment - while achieving results as good as those as a hospital stay, a conference has heard.

The coin-sized prototype photodynamic therapy (PDT) device has been tested in a pilot study in Brazil. The results were presented at the European dermatology EADV Congress 2021.

Although PDT, which involves light-sensitive medicine and a light source to destroy abnormal cancer cells, for low-risk BCC has been proven through multiple studies, the need to reduce pain during treatment and a long hospital stay led to the development of a new device.

Standard PDT treatment consists of two sessions performed within a hospital environment that usually requires a 1.5-two hour wait with a one-week interval.

The pilot study involved 15 BCC patients at Amaral Carvalho Hospital with Sao Carlos Institute of Physics, in Sao Paulo State.

The first PDT session was at the hospital, where a 20% methyl aminolevulinate cream was applied to the BCC lesion before being illuminated for 20 minutes with a commercial red light LED device.

Immediately after the first illumination, a light layer of cream was applied and the new portable irradiation device was fixed to the skin using medical tape.

The patient was then sent home and told to turn on the illumination after 90 minutes and switch it off after two hours.

Pain was assessed every three minutes during the hospital PDT treatment session and self-reported every 20 minutes during home treatment, with the median score values compared between hospital and home treatments.

Analysis found the clearance at 30 days after PDT was 86.67%, which is similar to standard PDT treatment.

The pain score was significantly lower for the PDT treatment performed at home – self-reported by the patients as a one for the first three measures and a zero for the four – compared to three-four for the hospital treatment.

Lead study author Ana Gabriela Salvio said: “Our study results could have a hugely positive impact on the treatment of basal cell carcinoma in Brazil and the rest of the world.

“Patients reporting much lower levels of pain from the at-home treatment is really encouraging, especially because it doesn’t come at the cost of efficacy.”

A clinical trial with more than 200 participants has now been approved.

Salvio AG, Requenna MB, Stringasci M et al. Photodynamic Therapy performed at home: The use of a portable device to decrease the patient’s stay at hospital without compromising the efficacy of basal cell carcinoma treatment; Abstract no. 1289, submitted to EADV 30th Congress, 29-02 October 2021

Tags: Cancer | Dermatology | Europe | South America

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