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Photodynamic therapy (PDT)

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a unique and relatively new cancer treatment that destroys cancer cells by combining a special photosensitizing drug with exposure to laser light.

The photosensitizing drug is injected into the patient typically about two days before laser treatment. The drug is absorbed into the body and held in the cancer cells.

When exposed to a low level laser light of an exact color or wavelength, the drug is activated and destroys the cancer cells.

What are the benefits of this treatment?

PDT may cause minimal damage to healthy tissue.

The procedure usually is performed on an outpatient basis, which means you can go home after a brief recovery period.

What conditions can it treat?

PDT is mainly used to treat tumors on or just under the skin or on the lining of internal tissue. In the United States, PDT is approved for use to treat esophageal cancers and some types of early and advanced lung cancer.

PDT is being investigated for use with several other cancers, including head and neck, brain, bladder and recurrent breast cancer. PDT also may be used to treat other conditions, including psoriasis and coronary artery disease.