What is photodynamic therapy?
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment that uses special drugs, called photosensitizing agents, along with light to kill cancer cells. The drugs only work after they have been activated or “turned on” by certain kinds of light.
The photosensitizing agent is put on the skin and over a certain amount of time the drug is absorbed by the cancer cells. Then light is applied to the area to be treated. The light causes the drug to react with oxygen, which forms a chemical that kills the cells. PDT might also help by destroying the blood vessels that feed the cancer cells and by alerting the immune system to attack the cancer. The period of time between when the drug is given and when the light is applied is called the drug-to-light interval. For most areas, the light is applied after 2 hours of incubation.
What is treatment like?
Aminolevulinic acid (Ameluz) is the solution that’s put right on the spots (called lesions) of actinic keratosis. Ameluz gel ehances skin penetration, reaching AKs better with reduced inflammation and redness.
The drug is left on the affected skin for 2 hours. After incubation the nurse will expose the area being treated to a blue light for about 16 minutes. During the light therapy you will wear protective eyewear. You may feel stinging or burning once the area is exposed to the blue light, but it should go away within a day or so. The treated area may get red and scale and crust for up to 4 weeks before healing.