Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a treatment based around the compound of two chemicals. Both chemicals specifically bind to premalignant or cancerous cells, and when activated by a bright light, form a reaction that kills the affected cells.
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What is PDT?
PDT is short for photodynamic therapy, and uses a special chemical application to your skin which binds to premalignant (sunspot) skin or skin cancers. On exposure to a bright light, the cream is activated and causes the death of the abnormal cells.
What is the process for PDT?
Prior to the application of the cream, preparation of the area is performed. This involves scraping off dead skin (curettage) or a chemical peel/exfoliation. This is usually completed at home daily with daily exfoliation with provided cleansers and creams.
On the day of the treatment the active ingredient is applied and is then activated by natural daylight. A mild tingling may be experienced after the exposure of the natural daylight. Over the course of the next week there will usually be some redness, swelling and mild to moderate crusting or scabbing which can be resolved with the application of moisturiser or Vaseline.
Why should I have PDT?
Your doctor may recommend PDT for treatment of solar keratosis (sun spots) or superficial skin cancers (Bowens disease/Intraepidermal squamous carcinoma or superificial Basal Cell carcinoma (sBCC)). PDT attacks and kills the affected cells with no effect on the normal cells
Who would need PDT?
PDT is recommended for treatment of solar keratosis when other treatments would be too prolonged to suit the patient (average duration of Efudix treatment is 3 weeks) or when patients prefer PDT due to less pain/itch/discomfort of alternative treatments. It may be more expensive than other alternatives but costs vary from clinic to clinic. This treatment is only available at specialist clinics so ask your doctor if this treatment is suitable for you during your visit. Treatment of solar keratosis with PDT may assist in the prevention of progression to skin cancers.
Is PDT solely cosmetic?
No, PDT is not solely cosmetic. PDT can produce excellent cosmetic results with treatment of suitable cancers. This treatment is as effective or more effective than other skin cancer creams, but is quicker, giving excellent cosmetic results with minimal duration of redness and irritation of the skin. It also has less downtime than other alternatives for treatment of solar keratosis.
PDT is the most convenient field treatment for removal of large or small areas of solar keratosis with minimal down time.