PHOTODYNAMIC THERAPY FOR ACTINIC KERATOSES (AK)
Photodynamic Therapy directs wavelengths of fluorescent light to activate a topical medicine applied to the skin. It selectively eliminates abnormal and possibly cancerous cells in particular areas.
This treatment doesn’t just treat the spots that are visible. Photodynamic therapy can treat both existing spots and the earliest places of sun damage that haven’t yet been identified as actinic keratosis.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Conditions Can Be Treated By Photodynamic Therapy?
Approved by the FDA Photodynamic Therapy can treat: actinic keratoses (AK), which are precancerous spots caused by sun-damaged cells in the epidermis.
How Does Photodynamic Therapy Work?
Photodynamic Therapy involves these 3 steps:
Application – Dr. Porter applies a liquid photosensitizing agent, directly to the affected area of the skin.
Incubation – Irregular cells in the skin biochemically convert ALA into a naturally occurring substance called protoporphyrin IX, which is very light sensitive. Most individuals have a trace amount of this substance in their skin, but it doesn’t usually cause any problems. The doctor will determine how long the incubation period should be. The lengthier the wait, the greater the impact.
For a patient with a really mild diagnosis, say for example, someone who has only a few pre-cancerous spots and has never been treated before, Dr. Porter may start with a lesser time period of incubation. For more severe cases he may increase the incubation time to longer.
Exposure – After the incubation period, the patient sits in front of a fluorescent lamp, which curves partly around the head from ear to ear for a set period. During the treatment and exposure to the fluorescent light, patients may feel a tingling or a mild burning sensation. Usually that stops as soon as the light is turned off. If the intensity becomes too much for a patient, Dr. Porter is able to turn off the light for a few minutes to give a break before resuming treatment.
What Are The Risks Of Photodynamic Therapy?
Apart from some reddening from inflammation and flaking, some may have a more serious reaction that includes blistering or scabs, but this also will be transient and is in rare cases. In addition, the light can be irritating to the eyes, for that reason, you wear protective goggles during the light treatment.