Phototherapy; Photochemotherapy; Photoradiation therapy; Cancer of the esophagus-photodynamic; Esophageal cancer-photodynamic; Lung cancer-photodynamic
First, the doctors injects a medicine that is absorbed by cells all over the body. The drug stays in cancer cells longer than it stays in normal, healthy cells.
After 1 to 3 days, the medicine is gone from the healthy cells, but remains in the cancer cells. Then, the doctor directs light at the cancer cells using a laser or other light source. The light triggers the medicine to produce a type of oxygen that treats cancer by:
The light can come from a laser or other source. The light is often applied through a thin, lighted tube that is put inside the body. Small fibers at the end of the tube direct the light at the cancer cells. PDT treats cancer in the:
Doctors use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to treat skin cancers. Medicine is placed on the skin, and the light is shone on the skin.
Another type of PDT uses a machine to collect a person's blood, which is then treated with a drug and exposed to light. Then, the blood is returned to the person. This is used to treat symptoms of a certain type of lymphoma.
PDT has several benefits. For example, it:
But PDT also has drawbacks. It can only treat areas where light can reach. That means it can only be used to treat cancer on or just under the skin, or in the linings of some organs. Also, it cannot be used in people with certain blood diseases.
There are two main side effects of PDT. One is a reaction caused by light that makes the skin swollen, sunburned, or blistered after just a few minutes in the sun or near bright lights. This reaction can last as long as 3 months after treatment. To avoid it:
The other main side effect is swelling, which may cause pain or trouble breathing or swallowing. These depend on the area that is treated. The side effects are temporary.
American Cancer Society. Photodynamic Therapy. www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/treatmenttypes/photodynamic-therapy. Accessed August 31, 2015.
Goldsberry A, Hanke CW, Salavastru C, Siegel D. Photodynamic Therapy. In: Robinson JK, Hanke CW, Siegel DM, Fratila A, Bhatia AC, Rohrer TE, eds. Surgery of the Skin. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2015:chap 33.
National Cancer Institute. Photodynamic Therapy for Cancer. National Cancer Institute. Updated: 9/6/2011. www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/surgery/photodynamic-fact-sheet. Accessed August 31, 2015.
Last reviewed on: 9/13/2015
Reviewed by: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.