Photodynamic therapy or PDT is a treatment using drugs called photosensitizing agents in conjunction with light to kill cancer cells. The drugs only work after certain types of light have activated them. PDT is also called phototherapy, photoradiation therapy, or photochemotherapy. Studies have shown that this course of treatment can work as well as radiation therapy or surgery when treating certain kinds of cancers and pre-cancers.
There are many advantages to PDT including:
• No long-term side effects when properly administered
• Less invasive than surgical procedures
• Often only takes a short time, and can be done on an outpatient basis
• Can be precisely targeted
Depending on the area of the body receiving the treatment, the photosensitizing agent is put either on the skin or into the blood stream. The drug is then absorbed for a period of time by the cancer cells. This time period is called the “drug-to-light interval” and can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. After this time period, a light is applied to the area. The light causes a reaction between the drug and oxygen, which creates a chemical that kills the cancer cells.
PDT can also help destroy cancer cells by destroying the blood vessels that feed the cancerous cells, as well as alerting the immune system to attack the cancer.
There are limitations to the PDT process. It can only treat areas that can be reached by the light, so it is mainly used to treat problems on or just under the skin. It also cannot be used in patients who have certain blood diseases or have allergies to porphyrins.
The best way to determine if you are a good candidate for PDT processes is to discuss this option with a medical professional. At The Skin & Vein Center, we can talk to you about the benefits of this procedure, as well as whether it is a viable treatment for you.
Call us at 800-400-VEIN to schedule an appointment.