Photodynamic Therapy for Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers and Actinic Keratosis

Derm.ca offers photodynamic therapy (PDT) as a therapy for early non-melanoma skin cancers. This novel laser and medication combination therapy uses a photosensitizing (Levulan) to selectively destroy cancer and pre-cancerous cells.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Actinic Keratosis

Actinic-Keratosis
Conditions Treated By (PDT)

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) on the surface of the skin (superficial BCC)
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) in situ (Bowen’s disease)
  • Actinic Keratosis, a potentially precancerous condition of the skin

PDT is used most often for patients with extensive actinic keratoses of the face. In this scenario, liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy, “dry ice”) is not a practical modality when there are innumerable potentially pre-cancerous lesions.

How Is PDT Performed?

There are two stages in a PDT session. First, the Levulan photosensitizer medication is placed on the areas of concern on the skin. The potentially pre-cancerous actinic keratosis cells selectively accumulate the medication and over about an hour of incubation time, these cells are selectively sensitive to laser light or a concentrated blue light.

When the light is applied to the treated skin, only the “bad” cells are killed. It is, in essence, precision bombing of precancerous cells with selective sparing of healthy cells.

Potential Side Effects From Photodynamic Therapy

Many people have no side effects whatsoever. However, the potential side effects of PDT therapy include

1) Prolonged sensitivity to light of the skin which can last up to one week,

2) pain (usually only mild),

3) redness

4) tissue swelling (which is temporary).

These side effects can be anticipated and mitigated by being indoors for 36 hours and avoiding all bright light (i.e. not just sunshine – bright computer screens, light bulbs, and indirect sunlight can also bring out these side effects).

We will give you specific post-care instructions and we will be reachable should you have concerns in the post-procedure period.

PDT: A Preventative Cancer Therapy

Some people report that “I didn’t see anything different” after PDT. You must remember that individual cancer cells cannot be seen, however, if you have numerous actinic keratoses, other potentially pre-cancerous cells are on the surrounding skin by definition.

PDT treats cells that are present but before they have multiplied many times to become a spot that is visible to the naked eye. Thus, PDT is a very “forward-thinking” cancer prevention therapy

Here’s What Our Patients Are Saying…

“The best decision I ever made. Thanks to Ildiko and her team I now have my confidence back. I can’t tell you how stressful it was going into a social situation with the fear of breaking out into a heavy sweat. I recommend miraDry treatment to anyone who wants to eliminate sweat and odor in the underarm area.
-Gay N.