Photo Dynamic Therapy (PDT)

Photo Dynamic Therapy incorporates light-activated chemicals to impair tumor growth.  Studies have shown that PDT can work as well as surgery or radiation therapy in treating certain kinds of cancers and pre-cancers. It has some advantages, such as:

  • It has no long-term side effects when used properly.
  • It’s less invasive than surgery.
  • It usually takes only a short time and is most often done as an outpatient.
  • It can be targeted very precisely.
  • Unlike radiation, PDT can be repeated many times at the same site if needed.
  • There’s little or no scarring after the site heals.
  • It often costs less than other cancer treatments.

But PDT has limits, too. It can only treat areas where light can reach. This means it’s mainly used to treat problems on or just under the skin, or in the lining of organs that can be reached with the light source. While some of the drugs can travel throughout the body, the treatment only works where the light shines. This is why PDT can’t be used to treat cancers that have spread to many places. Also, the drugs that are currently used leave people very sensitive to light for some time, so special precautions must be taken after the drugs are put in or on the body.

In short, patients should mention PDT to their doctor and determine if they are a candidate.

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