What types of cancer can be treated with Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)?

PDT has been used to treat many different types of cancer. Sometimes treatment is offered to help alleviate distressing symptoms.

Some types of cancer accumulate the light-sensitive drug better than others.

It has to be possible to illuminate the area with light from a laser. This can often be achieved by passing an optical fiber through a tube but it is a limiting factor and many tumour locations cannot be reached.

Skin Superficial cancers and pre-cancers can be treated (but not melanoma). The drug is applied as a cream, and the effectiveness, tolerance and final appearance of the skin after treatment is extremely good for these superficial forms of skin cancer and precancer. A review by NICE noted efficacy in basal cell carcinoma, Bowen’s disease, and actinic keratosis and updated guidelines from the British Association of Dermatologists support the use of efficacy of these conditions (Wong, et al. 2018).

Brain Photodiagnostic (PD)-guided surgery is useful in treating certain types of brain tumour. It enables the neurosurgeon to increase the accuracy of tumor location and therefore subsequently be able to remove more tissue than was previously possible. We are doing more work on this licenced application with the use of Gliolan.

Bladder PD is helpful in the diagnosis of cancer in bladder and in the urinary tract (Ureter).

Lung PDT can be effective in treatment of early cancer. It can also be used in patients when surgery or radiotherapy is not suitable. NICE has approved its use for early stage lung cancer and for palliation of advanced cancer.

Updated  May 2020