Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is an emerging new procedure to treat certain types of skin cancer. Current evidence is showing PDT to be effective in treating solar keratoses on the face and scalp, and superficial basal cell carcinomas. It appears to be as effective as conventional treatments such as cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen), curettage, radiotherapy and topical 5-fluorouracil (Efudex™ cream).
PDT utilizes photosensitizing agents, oxygen and light, to create a photochemical reaction that selectively destroys cancer cells. Photosensitizing agents are drugs that are administered into the body through topical, oral or intravenous methods. In the body, they concentrate in cancer cells and only become active when light of a certain wavelength is directed onto the area where the cancer is. The photodynamic reaction between the photosensitizing agent, light and oxygen kills the cancer cells.
- Before treatment be sure to tell physician if you are taking any oral medications or using any topical prescription or nonprescription products on your face or scalp.
- Bring adequate sun-protective items with you to your appointment such as a wide brimmed hat or umbrella and scarf to cover face.
- Photosensitizing drug is applied to the area to be treated. The skin will be cleansed beforehand with alcohol.
- Your provider will direct you to wait the recommended time per the label in order to allow the solution to penetrate the targeted cells.
- Before your BLU-U light treatment, the treated area will be washed with a gentle cleanser.
- Treatment with the BLU-U will take 16 minutes and 40 seconds.
- Protective eyewear will be worn during the BLU-U treatment.
- The BLU-U does not emit UVA or UVB light.
- Side effects from PDT are due to the treated area being sensitive to light. The photosensitivity usually lasts about 48 hours (depending on the specific agent). Side effects may include:
- Burning/stinging sensation
- Swelling and redness
- Peeling and blisters
- The treated area should be protected from light exposure during first 48 hours.
- Photosensitizing drugs concentrate in cancer cells, they can also make healthy cells more sensitive to light.
- Sunscreens and Moisturizers can be used after the first 48 hours to protect the skin.