Cancer treatment has reached new levels across the world. Especially when it comes to cancer of the skin, thanks to treatments such as Photodynamic Therapy. Photodynamic therapy for skin problems is a revolutionary treatment for not only skin problems but certain cancers, acne, psoriasis, and more. However, this treatment can be extremely expensive around the world.
What Is Photodynamic Therapy?
Photodynamic therapy is a treatment that destroys cancerous and precancerous cells by combining light energy with a photosensitizer drug. The photosensitizer is activated using a specific wavelength of light energy. Upon activation, the photosensitizer becomes toxic and kills the tissue.
Photodynamic therapy today can treat a wide assortment of diseases and conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and macular degeneration due to age. It can also treat certain cancers such as cancers of the skin, lungs, brain, bladder, pancreas, bile duct, esophagus, head, and neck.
Photodynamic therapy can also treat bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. As per studies, there is evidence that photodynamic therapy can also have an unprecedented effect and trigger the body’s immunity response. This gives the body another medium to help destroy cancerous cells.
Who Needs Photodynamic Therapy for Skin Problems?
Patients with the following conditions may consider Photodynamic therapy with respect to skin problems.
- Basal cell cancer
- Bowen’s disease
- Actinic keratosis (rough, scaly patches of skin)
- Photodynamic therapy may also be considered in the case of the following non-skin related conditions or diseases.
- Esophageal cancer
- Non-small-cell lung cancer
- Age-related macular degeneration
Photodynamic Therapy is also an alternative to surgery or radiation therapy when it comes to several types of skin cancers. It’s just as effective against cancer, costs less than most cancer treatments, and does not have long-term side effects, unlike radiation and other cancer treatments.
Photodynamic Therapy Procedure: What to Expect
Initially, in the case of most skin problems or skin cancers, the doctor may need to remove crust or skin scale from the area being treated. A photosensitizing cream will be applied to the area being treated and the area will be gently covered.
The drug will need to be absorbed by the skin cells. How long this takes depends on the type of photosensitizing cream being used by the doctor. The cream could need a few minutes or up to 18 hours.
Once the cream has been incubated and absorbed, the doctor will provide the patient with eye gear to protect the eyes.
During the procedure, a special blue or red light will be focused on the area being treated. The patient may feel stinging or a burning sensation. For the patient’s comfort, the doctor may prescribe a painkiller before the procedure.
PDT isn’t an appropriate treatment for every patient. Patients with blood diseases cannot undergo photodynamic therapy. Patients allergic to peanuts or almonds cannot undergo photodynamic therapy. This is because oils from these nuts are used in the photosensitizing cream being used by the doctor.
The treatment is also ineffective against large cancers or tumors deep within the skin or organs. This is because the light used in photodynamic therapy can only reach a centimeter deep into the tissue.
Temporary Side Effects of Photodynamic Therapy
In most cases, photodynamic therapy will be completed within a day, and patients will not need to spend a night at the hospital. However, patients may face some temporary side effects of the therapy. These include:
- Photosensitivity (sensitivity to light)
- Burning Sensation
- Stinging Sensation
- Redness of the skin
- Itching of the skin
Patients must let their treatment specialists know in case of side effects. The specialist will provide medication to manage the side effects. Photosensitivity lasts 4-6 days after treatment in most cases.
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