The Hummingbird Cancer Centre in Cape Town has introduced an innovative treatment option for cancer patients called Photodynamic Therapy (PDT).

Researched and developed by a global team of professionals, research scientists and physicians, PDT uses light to destroy cancer tissue and is unique in its non-invasive, affordable and non-toxic approach.

While PDT is not entirely new to the healthcare industry, having been used by oncologists, dermatologists and skin laser clinics, this new treatment option at The Hummingbird Cancer Centre uses state of the art equipment to tackle various types of cancer in many other areas of the body– such as the oesophagus, prostate, kidneys, lungs, pancreas and bladder.

Explaining how the technology works at the recent launch of PDT at The Hummingbird Cancer Centre, Head of R&D, PDT, Dr Donald Murphy, said that patients are first given a bio-engineered and patented chlorophyll photosensitising agent.

“Once inside the body, this agent collects selectively in cancer tissue and when exposed to infra-red laser light, becomes activated, releasing a highly energised, free radical form of oxygen known as singlet oxygen. This destroys cancer cells, while leaving normal tissues largely unaffected,” said Dr Murphy.

“You administer the fluid and in 15 hours the sensitiser has concentrated, and is taken into the cancer cell. This is a ‘Trojan Horse’ as on its own it is not sensitive and does not react with the cancer cell. It will be treated as a normal trace of chlorophyll but if you shine the light on the cancer containing this sensitiser (in the right time sequence) then pathological photosynthesis occurs and it kills individual cancer cells one by one. The light is activated by ‘state of the art’ specifically designed full-body LED light bed and laser light systems. The maximum time for an inflammatory process is seven days and an immune response is seven days so you wait a week between each treatment. We recommend a month after the last course to do another PET CT scan to see the results,” continued Dr Murphy.

Therapy has only just been made available with the first few patients completing up to three full cycles of treatment each.

The Hummingbird team is comprised of experienced medical doctors, nurses, clinical psychologists, dieticians, massage therapists, natural medicine doctors and counsellors. The cancer treatment programme that the centre offers combines the best of conventional and complementary therapies, incorporating appropriate nutritional protocols, natural medicines and novel immune enhancing techniques to optimise the health of each patient and the effectiveness of the PDT.

PDT is seen as an adjunctive and fully complementary additional and valuable pillar in the healing of cancer for those wishing to add to their current cancer treatment, or those seeking an alternative to chemotherapy or surgery. The fact that there is almost no pain or side effects makes this an option for some patients who are looking at additional treatment options.

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