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Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer: Photodynamic Therapy

Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer: Photodynamic Therapy

Topic Overview

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment used for nonmelanoma skin cancer . PDT is a process of applying a medicine and then shining a special light on it. It may be used to treat skin cancers when surgery or radiation can't be used.

Medicines used in PDT for skin cancer include 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA), methyl aminolevulinate (MAL), and porfirmer sodium.

PDT is used to treat actinic keratoses on the face and scalp, squamous cell carcinoma in situ (Bowen's disease) , and superficial basal cell carcinomas . Studies show that cure rates for skin cancers treated with PDT may be slightly lower than surgery or radiation. But PDT does not leave a scar like surgery does. 1

Studies of PDT with methyl aminolevulinate (MAL) found that this treatment was as effective as cryosurgery for actinic keratoses and squamous cell carcinoma in situ (Bowen's disease). 2

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. National Comprehensive Cancer Network (2012). Basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology, Version 2. Available online: http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/PDF/nmsc.pdf.
  2. National Comprehensive Cancer Network (2010). Basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology, Version 1. Available online: http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/PDF/nmsc.pdf.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology
Last Revised September 17, 2013

Last Revised: September 17, 2013

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