Using light’s force to destroy cancer cells.

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses specialized drugs, known as photosensitizing agents, combined with a light source to target cancer cells.

What is photodynamic therapy?

The drugs used to destroy the cancer are activated when put into contact with light. PDT is primarily used to treat patients with precancerous lesions. It works on certain localized cancers.

This therapy is a great preventative treatment for people with sun-damaged skin. In addition to treating cancer, the combination of drug and light makes the skin clearer, smoother, and healthier.

Photodynamic therapy is a potential treatment for these types of skin cancer:

  • Actinic Keratosis
  • Superficial and nodular basal cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma in situ (Bowen’s Disease)

How photodynamic therapy works.

The photosensitizing agent is applied to the area being treated. The drug is then absorbed by the cancer cells in a specific period of time. Blue or red light is then applied to the area to allow the medication to be activated. The light causes the drug to react and create cancer-destroying oxygen molecules.

The time between the medication being applied and the light activation to the affected area is known as drug-to-light interval. This can vary from no time at all, to a few hours, depending on the photosensitizing agent used.

The benefits of photodynamic therapy.

PDT can work as well as radiation therapy or surgery in treating certain types of pre-cancers or cancers. It has the following advantages:

  • When used properly, it has no long-term side effects
  • It is less invasive than surgery
  • Performed as an outpatient treatment
  • It can be targeted with precision
  • Unlike radiation, this therapy can be repeated several times (if needed) at the same site
  • None to very little scarring occurs once the site heals completely

Explore more treatment options.

At Kelowna Skin Cancer Clinic we offer patients a variety of treatment options. The appropriate  treatment will depend on a number of factors. We’ll provide personalized advice to determine the right treatment for you.