Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a technique recently introduced for treating superficial precancerous skin lesions: actinic or solar keratoses, superficial basal cell carcinomas and spincocelular carcinomas in situ or Bowen's disease (Skin Cancer).
Photodynamic therapy is principally used to treat multiple lesions over extensive areas or as prevention for large areas where there is a possible risk of cancer. Cosmetic results are better than those obtained with conventional destructive techniques, which makes it the appropriate choice for localized cases in aesthetic areas.
The action of photodynamic therapy may be regarded as a physical-chemical combination. It is based on the excitation of a photosensitizer by a source of visible light to produce an oxygen activated cytotoxic agent in the cancerous cells which destroys them. Its destructive action is therefore highly selective.
The chemical substance employed is a derivate of levulinic acid: aminolevulinic acid (ALA) or methyl aminolevulinate (MAL). It induces the accumulation of porphyrins in the cell nuclei. Thissubstance is absorbed by the affected (precancerous or cancerous) cells and remains in them longer than in the healthy neighboring cells, thereby enabling the treatment to be repeated as often as required without any risk.
- Application of the substance in the form of a cream
- Waiting time
- Illumination (the therapy itself)
- Where is photodynamic therapy carried out
Dermatology clinics devoted to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of skin cancer have photodynamic therapy among their therapeutic arsenal. Centro Médico Teknon has provided this procedure since its initial foundation.
- What is the normal postoperative evolution?
Immediately after the session, a reddening and slight swelling (edema) similar to a superficial burn may be observed. Discomfort is likely to continue for some hours and can be relieved with the local application of cold treatment (ice packs or similar) as well as an analgesic such as paracetamol. For two days (48 hours) subsequent to photodynamic therapy, the treated area must be protected against sunlight.
Depending on the type of lesion and the patient's skin, painless scabs will appear on the treated area during a week after treatment. They disappear after a few days, giving way to pinkish underlying layers of skin that are "clean" of excoriations. In general, after three weeks the skin acquires its definitive appearance, although subtle improvements occur up to a period of three months.
Photodynamic therapy leaves no scar. Cosmetically speaking, the result obtained is better than any other destructive method employed against skin cancer. Only on rare occasions do changes in pigmentation (skin color) or body hairs on the area treated occur.
Results after three months for a lesion treated
in two sessions separated by a month.
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