Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) for Skin Cancer By William P. Baugh on October 29, 2016

A patient undergoing photodynamic therapy (PDT)The team at Full Spectrum Dermatology is committed to the people of Fullerton. We always strive to enhance the appearance of people's skin, yet our primary focus is to improve the health of the skin. Taking practical and cosmetic approaches to dermatology is a sure way to improve a person's appearance and their quality of life.

Our team offers a number of treatment options to address skin cancer. With early detection, we can eliminate precancerous and cancerous growths successfully. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is one of the newer treatments available for precancers. Let's go over the basics of what it is and how it works right now.

About Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

Also known as photoradiation therapy, phototherapy, and photochemotherapy, photodynamic therapy combines special light technology and drugs to kill cancerous cells. While photodynamic therapy is still in the process of being studies, a number of doctors and dermatologists have been using this procedure to help address precancerous growths on the skin.

Aside from its use to fight cancer and precancerous growths, photodynamic therapy can also be used to treat acne, sun damage, and other blemishes that affect the skin.

How Photodynamic Therapy Works

Photodynamic therapy makes use of drugs known as photosensitizing agents. These drugs are only activated by special kinds of light. During treatment, the photosensitizing agents are either introduced into the patient's bloodstream or applied topically to the cancerous or precancerous growth.

Once the photosensitizing agents are absorbed into the cancer cells, the special light is then applied to the treatment area. The activated drugs react with oxygen, causing a chemical reaction that kills the cancerous cells. In turn, photodynamic therapy can help eliminate the blood vessels in the treatment area that feed the cancerous cells while potentially alerting the immune system of the presence of cancer cells in the process.

Ideal Candidates for Photodynamic Therapy

Good candidates for photodynamic therapy are patients who have topical growths on their skin that are cancerous or precancerous. It's typically best for skin cancers that have been caught in early stages of development and are still localized in their point of origin.

What to Expect During Photodynamic Therapy

The exact nature of your PDT treatment can vary depending on the photosensitizing agent, the type of light applied to the skin, and the location of the growth or growths. It may require a few hours or a few day for the photosensitizing agent to be properly absorbed into the cells depending on if the drugs are administered topically or intravenously.

During the photodynamic therapy itself, the session can last up to 40 minutes depending on the nature and size of the growth. Patients might feel some stinking or burning as their skin and the photosensitizing agent reacts to the light energy.

We can offer patients a more detail account of the phototherapy process during a consultation.

How Many Treatment Sessions are Necessary?

This can vary from patient to patient based on the results of the initial procedure. Multiple sessions are common, and may be spaced as week or several weeks apart.

Again, it's best to visit the practice for a consultation to find out more about your specific procedure and what the treatment process will entail.

The Benefits of Photodynamic therapy

Some of the major benefits of photodynamic therapy include the following:

  • Far less invasive than surgical removal of growths
  • An outpatient procedure
  • Multiple growths in an area can be targeted at once
  • Precise targeting of the affect skin
  • Scarring is minimal since no surgery is involved
  • The side effects are only short term and quite manageable
  • More affordable than other cancer treatments

Contact Full Spectrum Dermatology

For more information about your options for advanced skin cancer treatment, be sure to contact our advanced skin care and cosmetic dermatology practice today. The team at Full Spectrum Dermatology will work closely with you to improve your health and wellness.

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William Baugh, M.D.

Full Spectrum Dermatology William Baugh, M.D.

Board-certified dermatologist William Baugh is dedicated to providing the best professional dermatological services. He is proud to be affiliated with the:

  • American Board of Dermatology (Diplomate)
  • American Academy of Dermatology (Fellow)
  • American Society of Dermatologic Surgery (Fellow)
  • American Society of Laser Medicine and Surgery (Fellow)
  • Orange County Medical Association
  • Christian Medical and Dental Society

For an appointment at Dr. Baugh's modern, spa-like practice, please contact us online or call (714) 879-4312.

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