Photodynamic therapy is a treatment that aims at killing malignant cells with the use of a photo-sensitizing agent in conjunction with light of a specific wavelength in the presence of tissue oxygen. This therapy has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of certain types of cancers, such as esophageal cancer.
Areas of the Body that Can Be Treated
Photodynamic therapy can only work on those areas of the body where light can reach. This is because the photo-sensitizing agent applied on the targeted tissue can only be activated when exposed to light of a specific wavelength. Since light can penetrate only 1 centimeter of tissue, photodynamic therapy can be used to treat tumors that are on the skin or immediately under the skin.
Other parts of the body that can be treated by this therapy are the linings of internal organs or cavities. Tumors on the outer skin can be treated with precision and accuracy. This therapy is effective on small tumors and cancer that is primary and has not metastasized. However, tumors that are deep inside the body or large in size and have spread can't be treated with this therapy.
Photodynamic therapy is an outpatient procedure that requires local anesthesia and is minimally invasive. A lot of research is being carried out to overcome the limitations of this therapy.