Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a minimally invasive way of treating superficial skin cancer and sun damage; specifically Basal Cell Carcinomas (BCCs ) and actinic keratosis (AKs).
The technique leaves virtually no mark on the skin once healed and is ideal for cosmetically sensitive areas such as the face. PDT is a two-stage treatment. To successfully treat basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and Actinic Keratoses (AKs) a second treatment is always needed, and very occassionally, a third is required. To make it as comfortable as possible for the patient, treatments are spaced out over a month.
In the first phase, the consulting dermatologist will identify the skin legion/s that require treatment. During the first stage your doctor will make out the identified skin lesion/s of your body. The area is then prepared by de-bulking any thicker lesions and then a cream is applied (Metvix) to the skin. This medication is absorbed into the abnormal cells of the skin (BCC or AK). Once in these cells the medication reacts, making the chemicals within sensitive to light. The reaction takes several hours. This means the treated area that has had cream applied will be covered with a dressing and you are free to leave the clinic and return in 2-3 hours for the second phase.
Once you have returned to the clinic, the dressing will be removed and you will be taken to the light treatment room. The special red light lamps will be positioned over the treatment area. Once in position, you must remain under the light for 5-10 minutes (time varies based on treatment site and lesion). These two phases are a good indication of what you can expect to experience if PDT is recommended for you by your consulting doctor.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING AND AFTER?
The light treatment itself can be uncomfortable, the reaction of the medication under the lights produces a burning sensation, these are however minimised by cooling fans and topical anaesthetics.
The area treated will need to remain covered for 24 hours after the procedure, and protected from sunlight until your next review. You will find that the area treated will have the appearance of a sore or graze 48 hours following treatment, however should heal completely between 1 and 4 weeks.
One week following your treatment you will have a review with your Dermatologist to assess your progress and receive any second treatment if required.