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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 laser 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

Description of the Evidence

Background Incidence and mortality There are three main types of skin cancer: Basal cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma (together with basal cell carcinoma referred to as nonmelanoma skincancer). Melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common forms of skin cancer but have substantially better prognoses than the less common, generally more aggressive melanoma. Nonmelanoma skin cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer...

Read the Description of the Evidence 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: October 02, 2012
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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