What is Photodynamic Therapy?
Photodynamic Therapy ( PDT) is a treatment that uses special drugs, called photosynthesizing agents, in conjunction with a special wavelength of light to kill rapidly dividing cells that cause cancer.
How do Dr. Retterbush & Dr. Whalen utilize PDT in their office?
- To treat areas on the head, neck, chest, and arms that have many precancerous cells and have been areas of high cumulative sun exposure.
- They will curette and prepare particular areas of concern before the medication and blue light is utilized for best results.
What Drug is used as the photosynthesizing agent?
- Aminolevulinic acid (ALA) or the brand name Levulan Kerastick is put on the spots of actinic keratosis (pre-cancerous lesions). It will be applied in office and will incubate for a period of 1-4 hours (depending on the location) before you expose the spots to the special wavelength of light.
- Depending on your prescription insurance coverage, we will arrange for you to pick up the medication at the pharmacy before your appointment, or have it sent to our office for application.
What does the light feel like?
- You may feel stinging once the area is exposed to the light, but it will go away usually in 24-48 hours.
- Most patients report little discomfort.
- You will be exposed to the light in the office for approximately 16-17 minutes.
- You will also wear protective eyewear that we have in the office during your light treatment.
What happens after the light treatment?
- It is important to avoid sunlight for at least two days after your light treatment, as the sun can activate the medicine on your skin.
- Wear protective clothing, like a wide brimmed hat or long sleeves.
- Avoid going outside and make sure to wear sunscreen because even riding in the car can reactivate the medication.
- The area that is treated may become red and scale for approximately a month after exposure before healing. Some lesions respond best to two treatments. You and your physician will decide what is best for you.