PDT or PhotoDynamic Therapy is an excellent treatment modality for sunspots, sun damage and superficial skin cancers. Treatments are quick, convenient, with a shorter recovery time compared to surgery and other creams. Sunspots only require one treatment, whilst Basal Cell Cancers and IECs require two treatments.
Important facts on Photodynamic Therapy- PDT
Photodynamic therapy is a non-surgical and well tolerated treatment that combines the use of a special photosensitizing agent (ALA). This chemical is activated with a specific wavelength and intensity of light. It is a two-part treatment. First, the drug is administered to the skin via cream. An incubation period (wait time) of 90-180 minutes is need for absorption of the cream. This is followed by exposure under a specific light source for several minutes. Once the skin is exposed to the light treatment, the photosensitive drug starts to react by destroying damaged and cancerous cells leaving normal skin tissue unaffected.
PDT is also an excellent method of treating pre-cancerous areas or solar keratosis.
Read more about treating sun-damage
For treating skin cancers, a slight stinging or burning is commonly felt in the treated area when the laser light activates the cream.
For large areas of PDT, such as the face, or scalp we often provide pain relief with either a cooler or analgesia. The larger the area treated, the more the pain. Your skin cancer specialist and nursing staff will ensure that you are comfortable throughout the treatment process.
Due to the sunsensitivity of photodynamic therapy, many patients have a sunburn feeling for several days following treatment. This can be alleviated with the use of cool compresses, and of course, sun protection.
Large treatment areas such as the face or scalp usually heal within 4-6 days.
If you have PDT to the lower limbs, you may need to restrict your activities for a few extra days to ensure that your skin heals.
Preparation of the area for PDT typically takes 10 to 15 minutes.
Step one: Cleaning skin, degreasing with applicator and microdermabrasion if needed. Areas to be treated marked out. Skin cancer location photographed and documented.
Step two: Application of cream. Cover with light proof dressing.
Step three: Incubation for three hours. The wait time allows for the chemical to be concentrated in the area of sun damage and cancerous skin cells.
Step four: illumination with specific low-level laser light. This takes 7 to 8 minutes to perform
Step five: Application of healing balm post PDT.
How much time off work will depends on the site and extent of treatment.
Full face PDT takes approximately 6-7 days to recover from, which compares favorably with Efudix treatment (downtime of 3-4 weeks). Smaller treated areas such as the nose or upper lip heal within four to five days after the procedure.
Your skin cancer specialist will inform you of the downtime prior to treatment.
Note that not all lesions are suitable for PHOTODYNAMIC THERAPY, your skin cancer doctor or Specialist Dermatologist will guide you accordingly.
Sunspots or solar keratosis is a common pre-cancerous lesion seen in the Queensland population. Sun-spots are rough, dry, red and scaly lesions on areas of the face, ears, scalp, and hands. They should be treated because they can transform over time into skin cancer.
Efudix treatment involves application of a cream twice a day for a period of 3-6 weeks. It is highly effective, however downtime is significant- approaching 4-6 weeks. Additionally, with high humidity and UV index seen in Brisbane, Efudix treatment is limited to Autumn and Winter.
In contrast to Efudix, PHOTODYNAMIC THERAPY can be performed all year round and involves a single treatment. The procedure is over within a few hours and you skin heals up within a week of therapy. The major advantage of PDT over Efudix, Aldara and Picato is the convenience of treatment.
Read more about Efudix for sunspots
|TreatmentModality||Efficacy of treatment||Duration of treatment||Cosmetic outcome||Down time of treatment||Price of treatment|
|Fraxel laser||+++++||1 hour||Excellent-||7days||990 for one treatment|
|Efudix||+++++||3-4 weeks||Satisfactory||4 weeks||60-80|
|Aldara||++++||Upto 6 weeks||Moderate||Upto 6 weeks||140-360 dollars|
|Picato Gel||++++||3-4 days||Satisfactory||7 days||260- 990 dollars|
Sunspots will require only one treatment session, whilst skin cancers such as BCCs and IECs will require two sessions. Your skin cancer specialist will assess the severity and area at the time of consultation.
As a guide
Prices include all aspects of treatment including-
Note: PDT is NOT covered under Medicare. Some health insurance companies do provide a partial rebate for this procedure. We advise patients to check with their cover prior to undertaking this procedure.
An assessment by our Skin Cancer Specialist is need prior to PDT treatment. This ensures that your skin cancer or sunspot can be safely and effectively treated by this method.
Once an assessment has been conducted, your Skin Cancer Doctor will refer you to an appropriate centre for treatment
PDT or photodynamic therapy has been a time tested treatment method for sun spots, actinic keratosis and superficial or thin skin cancers of the basal cell and squamous cell subtype (Bowens Disease). If performed in the correct setting, PDT has a very high cure rate, with a low incidence of scarring.
In the setting of sun spot treatments, it has a shorter downtime compared to traditional treatments such as EFUDIX, however newer methods of sun spot treatments such as FRAXEL 1927 Laser is slowly replacing large area PDT treatments. Laser treatment of sun spots has a very promising future- treatments are more cost effective compared to PDT, and is associated with better comfort levels for the patient, as well as a decreased downtime. Clearance rates following Fraxel Laser varies from 60-85%.
Read more about Fraxel for sunspots