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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.

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Understanding Skin Cancer -- Prevention

If you are at risk for skin cancer, take the following precautions whenever possible: Avoid intense sun exposure by staying out of it from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Outside, wear a hat with a brim, long sleeves, trousers, and sunglasses that block UV radiation. Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher whenever you are outside. Report suspicious skin lesions to a doctor at once, especially if you have abnormal-looking moles or a family history of melanoma. Have...

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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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