Photodynamic therapy, or PDT, is a treatment for superficial types of skin cancer. It uses topical applications of medications that are sensitive to light plus a special light to kill cancer cells. Actinic keratosis is a type of skin cancer that affects people who have lived in tropical or subtropical places, and who have DNA damage from UVB waves. Other predisposing factors are fair skin that has been sunburned for years, long hours spent outdoors in the sun or a defective immune system.
If you think you may have actinic keratosis, you can be diagnosed by our specialist and learn about the options for treatment, including PDT. Some of the features of actinic keratosis that may appear on your skin are:
- Thick plaque
- A yellow or white scaly or horny surface
- Red or brown skin patches
- Tender skin
A photosensitizing agent is administered as a topical medication. Once inside the body, it gathers in cancer cells and is only activated when a certain wavelength of light is applied to the affected place. When this happens, there is a photodynamic reaction that takes place with the combination of the agent, oxygen and the light that kills the cancer cells.
Laser light has some advantages because it can have just one color wavelength, it can be well-focused to a particular site and because it is so intense, the treatment times are shorter. Laser light is considered the better option for small lesions and non-laser light is better for large lesions. Since the non-laser light has multiple colored wavelengths, it is suitable when several different agents are used.
We perform PDT in our office. Our trained technician applies the special medication and then targets the proper light directly to the desired area. When the treatment is finished, the area is covered with a dressing. Depending on the type of lesion and the type of chemical used, a follow-up treatment may be required after seven to 10 days.
Actinic keratosis may be the result of an active outdoor lifestyle, but it can be unsightly and uncomfortable. Fortunately, there is a treatment that leaves little or no scarring in most people. We may be able to help you remove superficial skin cancers with PDT.
Dermatology Consultants of South Florida and Spa Cosmedica and Laser Center are here to help you every step of the way in saying goodbye to your actinic keratosis. We have locations in Coral Springs and Sunrise. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more about PDT treatment.