Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

Photodynamic therapy is like "therapeutic sunburn".

Simply it is the application of a cream onto a skin cancer or pre cancer. The cells take up the cream which photosensitises the cells. Shining a light activates the cream and releases highly reactive oxygen species which kill the cancer or pre cancer cells, without harming normal skin.

That's the theory. In reality it's a little more complex...............

Watch a video on Metvix PDT

Metvix PDT patient info lealfet

Metvix contains Arachis oil

My experience with PDT dates back to November 1996 when I became involved with a study on aminolaevulinic acid PDT for skin cancers and pre-cancers of the skin. This large body of work involving 88 patients with 239 lesions was published in the British Journal of Dermatology as Varma S, Wilson H, Kurwa HA, Gambles B, Charman C, Pearse AD, Taylor D, Anstey AV. Bowen's disease, solar keratoses and superficial basal cell carcinomas treated by photodynamic therapy using a large field incoherent light source. Br J Dermatol 2001; 144: 567-74.

During this work, I was fortunate enough to work with Photocure and was then involved with two multi centre, international studies on methylaminolaevulinate PDT.

These were published as

Rhodes LE, deRie M, Enström Y, Groves R, Morken T, Goulden V, Wong G, Grob J-J, Varma S, Wolf P. Photodynamic therapy using topical methyl aminolevulinate vs surgery for nodular basal cell carcinoma: results of a multicenter randomized prospective trial. Arch Dermatol 2004; 140: 17-23


Basset-Seguin N, Ibbotson S, Emtestam L, Tarstedt M, Morton C, Maroti M, Calzavara-Pinton P, Varma S, Roelandts R, Wolf P. Topical methyl aminolaevulinate photodynamic therapy versus cryotherapy for superficial basal cell carcinoma: a 5 year randomized trial. Eur J Dermatol 2008; 18 (5): 547-53

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