SKIN CANCER

Photodynamic Therapies

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What Is Photodynamic Therapy?

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment primarily used for superficial forms of skin cancer. It is particularly effective in treating conditions like actinic keratoses, in situ squamous cell carcinoma (Bowen disease), and superficial basal cell carcinomas. In some cases, PDT may also be used for small, thin, and low-risk nodular basal cell carcinomas located outside of the head and neck area.

In addition to its primary use for treating superficial skin cancer, Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is sometimes used off-label for other purposes. It can be employed for facial rejuvenation and to address mild to moderate acne.

How does Photodynamic therapy (PDT) work?

PDT, or photodynamic therapy, is a treatment that uses special drugs, light, and oxygen to destroy cancer cells. First, the drugs are given to the patient either through a cream, pills, or injection. These drugs stay inactive until they are exposed to a specific type of light. When the light is applied to the affected area, the drugs become active and create a reaction with oxygen, producing substances that can kill the cancer cells. The treatment mainly affects the cancer cells while minimising harm to healthy cells. PDT is commonly used to treat skin cancers and other conditions in a targeted and less invasive way.

How to Look After Your Skin After PDT Treatment?

After the treatment, a sunburn-like reaction occurs.

This reaction usually heals within 2 weeks. Social downtime is recommended for 1-2 weeks. 

Dr Tina will recommend a suitable post care skincare for you.

WHICH TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE?

Book in for a skin consultation with Dr Tina for an individualised treatment plan.  Your best treatment will often depend on your age, gender, triggers and causes of your condition.

Dr Tina can advise on a combination including:

  • Cryotherapy
  • Biopsies
  • Excisions
  • Photodynamic Therapy
  • Ablative Laser for Skin Cancer
  • Compounding Medication

FAQ

Before PDT

  • Recent evidence suggests that using high-dose oral vitamin D for 7 days before the treatment may enhance the effectiveness of topical PDT.
  • Creams like urea or salicylic acid can be used for a week to remove thickened skin and help the drug penetrate better

Application

  • You skin will be cleaned and prepped. Some thickened lesions may be scrapped. 
  • Photosensitising agent (Aminolevulinic acid) is applied to the affected area.

Incubation

  • The photosensitising agent will concentrate in the cancer cells, it usually takes 1 to 3 hours.

Activation

    • A laser or non-laser light is directed onto the treated area.
    • The treatment lasts for a certain duration, typically 20-30 minutes with artificial light or 2 hours with daylight.
  • Side effects from PDT are due to the treated area being sensitive to light. The photosensitivity usually lasts about 24 hours (depending on the specific agent). Side effects may include -

    • Burning/stinging sensation
    • Swelling and redness
    • Crusting
    • Itchiness
    • Peeling and blisters
    • Skin infections.

    The treated skin lesion may blister and ulcerate as the cancer cells die off. This may take 1-2 weeks to heal.

    Depending on the type of lesion being treated and the photosensitising chemical used, a 2nd cycle of treatment may be given 7–10 days later.

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