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A bandage that "cooks" cancer cells can help fight the deadliest form of skin cancer

The bandage is designed to be worn after a patient has undergone surgery to remove a malignant melanoma.

When surgeons cut out a cancerous mole or skin graft, which is commonly found on the back in men and legs in women, they usually take out extra "healthy" tissue if a few stray cancerous cells have already spread there. This extra margin can be up to 2 cm wide, depending on the tumor penetration. The larger the tumor, the more likely is that some cells — invisible to the naked eye — migrate beyond the site of the cancer. But removing a portion of healthy tissue does not guarantee removal of all the malignant cells. Any remaining disease can lead to cancer months or even years later, and some studies suggest that in about 13% of patients, melanoma returns within two years of removing the cancerous tissue.

The high-tech bandage can reduce the rate of recurrence by destroying all cancer cells that remain after surgery.

Cancer cells are more sensitive to thermal damage than healthy cells, so temperatures of up to 60°C can kill malignant cells while healthy cells often remain healthy. Photothermal therapy usually involves injecting a light-sensitive chemical into the tumor site and then moving it around for a few minutes with laser light. In addition, tumors often contain tangled blood vessels which makes it difficult to control the flow of the chemical once it has been injected into the body; even thought the experimental bandage does the same job, but patients can use it at home with an infrared lamp — a chemical in the bandage that converts light into heat.

Highlighting the bandage for 15 seconds every two days generates enough heat to kill the tumor, according to lab tests on cells. The results were recently published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials. Now, researchers from the University of Nottingham, who developed the bandage, plan to try it on patients. If successful, it is hoped that surgeons will be able to remove smaller amounts of tissue - reducing scarring and speeding healing.

Source: Daily Mail - Cancer medical research


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