Photodynamic Therapy


Photodynamic therapy is completely non-invasive and generally well-tolerated in the treatment of precancers. While topical chemotherapy treatments have a similar rate of success, photodynamic therapy features fewer bothersome side effects and is competed in a much shorter amount of time. There is generally less crusting, inflammation and downtime. Additionally, one of the most important benefits of the use of PDT over a focal treatment such as liquid nitrogen in the treatment of precancers is that the therapy can target and treat abnormal cells that are visible to the physician or provider as well as those that are not yet visible.


Before treatment begins, a photosensitizing agent is administered to the patient. This agent is applied topically to the treatment area. Once this agent has been properly absorbed, generally after 1-2 hours, a special wavelength of light is directed at the treatment area for 16 minutes and 40 seconds- this is very specific! This light activates the photosensitizing agent, causing it to eliminate precancerous cells in the skin.


The entire duration of the treatment process takes between 2-3 hours to complete. After treatment, most patients experience a slight reaction in the treatment area similar to a sunburn. This typically fades within 1-2 weeks of receiving treatment. Because the skin in the treated area remains sensitive to light for up to 48 hours, it is strongly recommended that patients avoid any exposure to sunlight or intense artificial light for 1-2 days after treatment.