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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. First a medicine is applied to the skin. Then the doctor shines a special light on it. PDT 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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PDT is used to treat actinic keratoses on the face and scalp. It's also used to treat 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 with surgery or radiation. But PDT does not leave a scar like surgery does.1

Studies of PDT with the medicine MAL found that this treatment worked as well as cryosurgery for actinic keratoses and squamous cell carcinoma in situ (Bowen's disease).2


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
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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