Photodynamic Therapy is a medical technique that works on the basis of light. It is used to kill cancerous cells. This treatment makes use of a drug called a photosensitizer or a light sensitizer, because it starts to take effect only after being exposed to light. After they’re activated, these drugs help to fight and kill cancerous cells in the body. Photodynamic therapy is also referred to as phototherapy or photochemotherapy, and it has been in use for more than a hundred years now.
Advantages of Photodynamic Therapy
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is an effective way to treat many types of cancer, especially localized cancer. Though the method has been in use for a long time, it has been undergoing clinical tests and advancements of late and its actual value as a treatment method is being recognized. It provides a better option to cancer patients than most other methods because it is cheaper and minimally invasive. This makes the process less harmful and removes any possibility of scarring. No major side effects of this treatment have been discovered as yet. Moreover, it can be used repeatedly in one spot unlike radiation therapy, and it can also be used to treat more conditions than cancer.
Combining PDT with Other Treatments
One major application of photodynamic therapy that has been discovered of late is its ability to be combined with other methods of treatment. Since it has no major side effects, its efficiency can be increased by using it in combination with existing methods of treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. For instance, it is used in combination with surgery to treat some forms of lung cancer. While surgery helps to remove the cancerous cells, photodynamic therapy can be used to prevent these cancerous cells from recurring at the large surface areas of the body such as the pleura or the peritoneum. This combination has worked successfully in the past, and additional such combinations are being researched.
The Future of PDT
Photodynamic therapy has started to become widely used in the treatment of cancer and its other uses are being researched and tested. It is currently used to treat some forms of lung cancer and also tumors that appear not too deep within the body. The uses of PDT in treating larger forms of cancer and cancers that occur deeper inside the body are being tested. Moreover, the possibility of offering it as a hybrid option in combination with other forms of treatment is also being researched. The Food and Drug Administration has approved several of the photosensitizing drugs that are used in photodynamic therapy.
Photodynamic therapy provides cancer patients with a cheaper, less painful and more effective means to fight cancer. It can also be used to treat a few common skin conditions such as acne. Over the years, the procedure has become more popular and its ideal benefits are being recognized and well utilized.