The photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a procedure for the treatment of early stages of the bright skin cancer, like the actinic keratodermias and also special forms of bright skin cancer like basal cell carcinomas. This method is particular mild and normally leads to a healing without the formation of scars.
Which skin variations could be effectually treated by the use of the photodynamic therapy?
The potency of the PDT for the abolishment of flat basal cell carcinomas and actinic keratodermias is scientifically proven. Actinic keratodermias are pre-stages of the white skin cancer which appear as circumscribed callosities. They are induced by chronic light irradiation and occur mostly in the face or at the dorsum of the hand.
The basal cell carcinoma is the most frequent type of skin cancer; it is described as semi-malignant (semi = half, malignant = vicious), because it grows tissue-destructive, but it does not develop daughter tumors (metastases). Both, the basal cell carcinoma ant the actinic keratodermia demand for an effective treatment.
How does the photodynamic therapy work?
For the therapy of basal cell carcinomas or actinic keratodermias, which are covered by a thick scab, the scab has to be soaked by a greasy ointment or scraped off (curettage) before the treatment. The skin variation, which has to be abolished, will be covered by an ointment, which has an application time of 3-4 hours. This ointment contents a photo sensitizer, which is accumulated by the tumor cells. Afterwards the skin is irradiated with a special light, which emits light in the infrared spectral range.
The pre-treated tumor cells are going to be selectively destroyed by the light. The actinic keratodermias and basal cell carcinomas, which were treated by the PDT, heal within a few weeks, without the formation of visible scars. Often two sessions are necessary to obtain an ideal result.
Which advantages has the photodynamic therapy over other treatment techniques?
The PDT is a non-surgical and non-invasive form of treatment, which provides outstanding aesthetic results. Reliably, all mutated cells are included, even those which are not visible by the bare eye. Moreover it is possible, with a procedure similar to the PDT (the photodynamic diagnosis = PDD), to determine the precise extension of basal cell carcinomas, so the treated tumors could be completely excised.
Which side effects or disadvantages can occur by the PDT?
While the irradiation, a sharp pain or a cauterization could arise within the range of the treated skin areas. In the following days the treated focus can weep and develop scabs. A distinct redness can appear for several weeks. In about 10 % of the cases the tumor can not be completely removed by the PDT, so that a repetition of the treatment is necessary.
What has to be considered after the accomplishment of the photodynamic therapy?
As a precaution, you should not expose yourself to the sun for 24 hours after the PDT. Even in the following 14 days, the treated skin is more sensitive to light, so an adequate light protection should be considered.
In the face, the use of sunblocks (sun creams with a very high sun protection factor) is recommended.