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Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is used to treat certain cancers patients with non-small cell lung cancer and esophageal cancer. Photodynamic therapy destroys cancer cells using light-sensitive drugs and a visible light beam. PDT has also been approved for the treatment of pre-cancerous lesions.
Photodynamic therapy combines a light sensitizer drug with a specific type of light to destroy cancer cells. When a light sensitizer is exposed to the specific wavelength of light, they produce a form of oxygen that destroys nearby tumor cells. The light needed cannot pass through more than 1/3 of an inch of tissue. PDT is best used to treat tumors just under the skin or on the lining of internal organs or cavities. PDT cannot be used to treat cancer that has spread (metastasized) but can be an excellent option for comfort patients with advanced cancer. Treatments are usually performed by entering the mouth. This procedure is usually well tolerated.
Researchers continue to study ways to improve the effectiveness of PDT and expand its use to other cancers.
Patients treated should avoid sunlight and bright indoor lights for at least six weeks after treatment. PDT can cause burns, swelling, pain and scarring in nearby healthy tissue. Temporary side effects include coughing, trouble swallowing, stomach pain, painful breathing or shortness of breath.
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