Researchers in Sweden may have developed new technology to properly monitor laser light therapy to treat prostate and pancreatic cancer.

Photodynamic therapy – light therapy combined with certain cancer drugs – destroys cancer tumors. It has mainly been used to treat skin cancer because technology has not existed to track the precise amount of light needed to effectively kill tumors inside the body.

Researchers at SpectraCure, a Swedish scientific research company associated with Lund University, created software equipped with optical fibers that intermittently gathers information about the tumor, which is sent back to the laser instrument.

“In this way, the software can continually calculate the optimal light dose and adjust it if necessary. The entire tumor must be removed, while damage to adjacent organs must be avoided”, said Johannes Swartling, Doctor of Atomic Physics at Lund University and Chief Technical Officer at SpectraCure.

Tests on prostate cancer patients in Sweden have shown that the method works for internal tumors, and in the spring a clinical study on recurrent prostate cancer will begin in the United States and Canada, pending approval. Meanwhile, the same laser light technology is being tested in the United Kingdom on pancreatic cancer.

“The advantage of laser light is that it appears that side effects can be minimized. With current treatment methods, prostate cancer patients who are cured risk both impotence and incontinence,” he said.

Traditional treatments entail a risk of cancer recurrence, Swartling added.