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Photodynamic Therapy

What is Photodynamic Therapy?

PDT stands for photodynamic therapy. Photodynamic Therapy is a new, effective treatment for certain types of pre-cancerous lesions of the skin or skin cancer (actinic keratoses or commonly called sun spots and Bowen’s disease) and non-melanoma skin cancers called basal cell carcinoma.

How does Photodynamic Therapy work?

Photodynamic Therapy uses a different approach to the treatment of actinic keratoses and basal cell carcinoma in comparison to conventional methods. No surgery is involved. It is a simple, non-invasive treatment that consists of the application of Metvix cream to the lesion(s) followed by exposure to light from the specifically designed Aktilite® lamp (red light source). The abnormal cells in the lesions absorb the active ingredient from the Metvix cream. When exposed to the light from the Aktilite® lamp, a chemical reaction occurs which destroys only the lesion; healthy skin surrounding the lesion is not affected and left unharmed.

The Photodynamic Therapy system is used widely in Europe and Australia. It is now available at the Specialist Skin Clinic and Associates we are proud to be the first private clinic in the whole of Asia to offer this treatment.

What are the major benefits of Photodynamic Therapy?

This treatment combines a high rate of efficacy with a good cosmetic outcome. It offers a good alternative treatment to traditional surgery. While it does not replace surgery in the treatment of Bowen’s disease and superficial basal cell carcinoma, it offers an alternative for patients who are unsuitable or not keen on surgery and is a good option for treatment of lesions on difficult sites like the face and ears or when a good cosmetic outcome is of great concern.

What does Photodynamic Therapy involve?

Treatment with Photodynamic Therapy is carried out by your dermatologist and it involves 3 simple steps. You may have more than one lesion treated at one time.

  1. Preparation of the skin lesions by removing the scales/roughening of the skin surface. This will help Metvix cream to penetrate the affected skin areas.
  1. Metvix cream will then be applied to the lesion and a small area of the surrounding skin. The area will then be covered with a dressing and left for 3 hours. During this time you are free to leave the clinic, however you should ensure that the lesion is not exposed to direct sunlight.
  1. After 3 hours, the dressing will be removed and the treated area will be immediately exposed to light from the Aktilite® lamp for a period of 7 to 9 minutes.
As a safety precaution, you will be given goggles to wear during the light treatment to protect your eyes from the intense light.

Will this treatment be painful?

You may experience a stinging or burning sensation during the light exposure. If you become too uncomfortable, your doctor can pause the light treatment for a short while if necessary.

Are there any side effects?

Painful and burning sensations at the treatment site during and after light exposure are the most common side effects and may last for few hours.

What happens after treatment?

After your treatment, you are advised to keep the area clean. It is also recommended that you protect the treated skin from direct sun for 2 days.

Mild to moderate redness, swelling and inflammation are normal after-treatment responses which usually resolve soon after treatment but may persist for 1 – 2 weeks.

Will I scar?

Metvix is selective for abnormal cells leaving the surrounding healthy skin unharmed. This means that it has a very low potential for causing scarring compared with many other treatments.

How many treatments do I need?

For treatment of pre-cancerous skin lesions (actinic keratoses), 1 session of Photodynamic Therapy should be applied. For treatment of basal cell carcinoma and Bowen’s disease 2 sessions with an interval of 1 week in between sessions are needed.


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