Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a two-step treatment. It combines light energy and light-sensitive medication to destroy precancerous or cancer cells. The light-sensitive drug is activated once exposed to a specific wavelength of light from a laser. Once active, the medicine works to destroy the targeted tissues in the body.
This procedure can help treat acne, macular (eye) degeneration, psoriasis, and various cancers such as skin, bladder, lung, brain, pancreas, etc. PDT can also help treat various viral, bacterial, and fungal infections and the procedure can also trigger an immune response and increase immunity.
Photoradiation therapy, Phototherapy, or Photochemotherapy.
How is it Performed?
First, the patient is given a light-sensitive drug, also known as a photosensitizer. There are various forms and types of photosensitizers available. These can be taken orally, applied to the skin, or injected depending on cancer's type of condition or location.
After one to two days, most of the drug deposits in cancer or precancerous cells. Next, the light source is projected directly on the abnormal /cancerous growth location. The light is aimed directly at the affected site (skin or body organ). If cancer or abnormal cells are present inside, such as the lungs, the doctor performs an endoscopy that includes inserting a flexible tube into that location, through which then the light is passed.
Before PDT, healthcare professionals require some test results to locate the area. Then the patient is given light-sensitive medicine or photosensitizers. Depending on the body part/organ requiring treatment, the patient is either given a cream, tablet, or an injection. After that, the patient is asked to go home and return to the hospital after a few hours or days. Time allows the medicine to settle in the abnormal tissues in the body.
After the procedure, the treated area (if it is skin) is covered with dressing for at least a day or two. It helps protect the sensitive area from being scratched, damaged, etc. The site should be kept clean and dry. After removing the dressing, the area may be washed normally.
The doctor will advise a follow-up after a few weeks or months to check the treatment’s effect or if another procedural round is needed.
The potential risks or side effects of PDT depend on the treatment area. Generally, eyes and skin are more sensitive.
Risks of PDT on the skin are
- Swelling at the area of the treatment.
Risks of PDT on the esophagus are
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Difficulty swallowing.
- Scratching of the throat.
Risks of PDT in the lungs are
- Difficulty in breathing.
The recovery period is generally less than a day, and most people do not undergo any side effects. If an endoscope is used, you may feel soreness or itchiness where the light was applied. Some side effects to watch out for are –
- Sensitive to the sun or sunburns.
Recommended by experts and experienced doctors, PDT is a safe and authoritative test to diagnose and treat abnormal cancer cell growth without affecting nearby locations/regions.
Photodynamic therapy is used to treat a variety of conditions, including:
- Particular skin diseases, including precancerous skin changes.
- Pancreatic cancer.
- Esophageal cancer.
- Bile duct cancer
- Lung cancer