Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
PDT is a non-surgical method to treat skin cancer and pre-canceorus skin lesions.
What is it?
PDT, in combination with metvix cream, a photosensitizing agent, is indicated for the treatment of superficial basal cell carcinoma (sBCC), a form of skin cancer, and precancerous lesions such as actinic keratosis (AK’s).
When metvix cream is exposed to particular wavelengths of light, a reaction is triggered such that AK’s and sBCC are removed effectively.
What are its benefits?
The primary advantages of PDT vs other treatment modalities such as surgery and other skin cancers cream are as follows:
- Superior cosmetic results
- Relatively minimal downtime
What is a treatment like?
To prepare the area to be treated, crusty areas of skin are removed (if present) using an instrument called a curette. Metvix cream will then be applied to the area of treatment. During summer months, when the sun is shining patients may undergo “Daylight therapy”. During winter months or in scenarios where daylight therapy is not preferred, “Red light therapy” will occur.
After having metvix cream applied, the patient will sit outside with direct exposure to sunlight within 30 minutes of application for approximately 2.5 hours where sunlight will activate metvix cream. The cream must be washed off after this time period. You may notice a burning and tingling sensation when metvix is exposed to sunlight. For the next 2 days your skin will be extremely sensitive to light. Skin care instructions will be given to the patient by our team which involves frequent sunscreen application. Over the next week you may notice sunburn-like redness, crusting and tenderness in the area of treatment. The unwanted cells will eventually slough and new, healthy skin will grow in its place. After about one week your skin is back to normal.
Red light therapy
After having metvix cream applied to the area of treatment a bandage will be placed on top covering the area. For the next three hours the cream will remain in the area of treatment. During this time you may leave the clinic however must avoid natural or artificial sources of light. After 3 hours have elapsed, the patient will return to clinic to commence treatment with red light therapy. Typically, red light therapy last approximately 8 minutes. During treatment you may notice pain, tenderness and tingling sensation in the area of treatment. For the next 2 days your skin will be extremely sensitive to light. Skin care instructions will be given to the patient by our team which will involve frequent sunscreen application. Over the next week you may notice sunburn-like redness, crusting, blistering and tenderness in the area of treatment. The unwanted cells will eventually slough and new, healthy skin will grow in its place. After about one week your skin is typically back to normal.
At present, PDT treatment with metvix is not covered by OHIP. Many private insurers cover this treatment. Often, we provide estimates for patients to submit to determine if and how much their private insurance will cover.
Is Photodynamic therapy right for me
To find out if PDT is right for you, a consultation with Dr Shukla and team will be helpful. During the consultation we will review treatment options and determine if PDT is the best choice for you.