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Medicine Science

Patch Makes Certain Skin Cancers Disappear 90

kkleiner writes "What if treating skin cancer was just a matter of wearing a patch for a few hours? At this year's Society of Nuclear Medicine's Annual Meeting one group of researchers presented such a patch. The patch is infused with phosphorus-32, a radioactive isotope used to treat some types of cancer. In a study of 10 patients with basal cell carcinoma located on their faces, the patch was applied for three hours, then for another three hours four and seven days later. Six months after treatment, 8 of the patients were cancer free."
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Patch Makes Certain Skin Cancers Disappear

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  • Too Small A Sample (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:08PM (#40394029)
    This is great news, and wonderful progress, but a sample of 10 patients isn't big enough. Hopefully this will get into full trials soon and then make it to market.
  • And as usual... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wonkavader ( 605434 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:15PM (#40394103)

    ...there was no control group.

  • Re:And as usual... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:22PM (#40394151)

    To be fair Basal cell carcinoma has pretty much a 0% chance of resolving untreated.

  • Re:And as usual... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dynedain ( 141758 ) <slashdot2@anthon ... m minus language> on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:23PM (#40394157) Homepage

    I'm sure there's enough statistical studies out there that show skin cancer doesn't just disappear.

    So control group not necessary.

  • Re:And as usual... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:45PM (#40394289)

    Because we already know what happens to untreated cancers and have the statistics already gathered. We can compare the efficacy of these radioactive bandages to the data collected for untreated skin cancers over the last 100 years. We can then compare the efficacy or lack thereof to the historic numbers.

    But we don't have to do that either. We can compare the efficacy of this treatment to other established treatments as controls. It will be either more or less effective. The key is to have something to compare.

    Having people go untreated for the sake of formality is unconscionable.


  • Re:And as usual... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wonkavader ( 605434 ) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:58PM (#40394355)

    No, you need the non-treated bandaids as a control. Unless you can show that the same techniques were already used in almost identical conditions with untreated bandaids, in which case we can compare against that. It's not high-quality, but it's something. And unless the patients were told in this other study from which we're borrowing the control, that the bandaids have a radioactive pellet on them, it's not really testing all your conditions.

    You don't know, in this case, whether it's the bandaid, the radioactive agent, or the placibo effect.

    Having thousands or even millions of people later treated using a technique you haven't studied properly is what's really unconscionable, and this happens in medicine all the time.

  • by XiaoMing ( 1574363 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:08AM (#40394711)

    According to Wiki [] it beta decays into an electron which can be blocked with "5 mm of perspex". I'm not sure how human tissue compares with the blocking power of perspex. The other particle is an electron anti-neutrino (!) which passes harmlessly through almost everything. No gamma radiation is produced. No neutrons are produced.

    If I had to be irradiated with something, Phosphorus 32 doesn't sound that bad.

    Ionizing radiation can both cause and cure cancer via DNA damage. If this patch can destroy cancerous DNA, it also has a nonzero chance of creating more cancerous cells in healthy cells. So no, you can't make-believe that it's curing cancer while the rest of your skin is immune to its effects.

    Additionally, most polymers can roughly be approximated as tissue-equivalent as far as penetration depth goes (only density matters to first order), which means that these electrons will penetrate up to 5mm (half a centimeter, mind you) of skin. That's well beyond the ~1mm of dead epidermal skin, and can reach the dermal stem cells.

    Moral is if you're ever drunk at a party and see 32P laying around, remember that Wikipedia doesn't empower you to be immune to cancer.

  • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:39AM (#40394863)

    Yet TFA makes it seem like you rub "radiation" on a patch and it can make cancer "disappear".

    But that's exactly what they did. They put radioactive material on a patch and the cancer disappeared.

  • by Turksarama ( 2666917 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:40AM (#40394865)
    5mm may be fairly deep, but remember that the amount of radiation drops of exponentially AND radiation is much better at killing cancerous cells than it is at converting healthy cells into cancerous ones. Worst case scenario is you get a new cancer where the old one already was, which you are probably watching very closely so it'll be picked up early.

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin