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Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer: Photodynamic Therapy

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Topic Overview

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment used for nonmelanoma skin cancer. PDT is a process of applying a medicine and then shining a special light on it. It may be used to treat skin cancers when surgery or radiation can't be used.

Medicines used in PDT for skin cancer include 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA), methyl aminolevulinate (MAL), and porfirmer sodium.

Recommended Related to Melanoma/Skin Cancer

Understanding Skin Cancer -- Symptoms

If you are in a high-risk group for skin cancer or have ever been treated for some form of the disease, you should familiarize yourself with how skin cancers look. Examine your skin from head to toe every few months, using a full-length mirror and hand mirror to check your mouth, nose, scalp, palms, soles, backs of ears, genital area, and between the buttocks. Cover every inch of skin and pay special attention to moles and sites of previous skin cancer. If you find a suspicious growth, have it examined...

Read the Understanding Skin Cancer -- Symptoms article > >

PDT is used to treat actinic keratoses on the face and scalp, squamous cell carcinoma in situ (Bowen's disease), and superficial basal cell carcinomas. Studies show that cure rates for skin cancers treated with PDT may be slightly lower than surgery or radiation. But PDT does not leave a scar like surgery does.1

Studies of PDT with methyl aminolevulinate (MAL) found that this treatment was as effective as cryosurgery for actinic keratoses and squamous cell carcinoma in situ (Bowen's disease).2

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 17, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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