Photodynamic Therapy

We use a light-activated drug and lasers to target lung cancer cells.

When cancer is in the lungs’ bronchial tubes, known as endobronchial cancer, photodynamic therapy may be curative and prevent the need for surgery. This treatment combines a photosensitizing agent --a drug that sensitizes an organism, cell, or tissue to light -- with a specific wavelength of light to kill cancer cells.

Photodynamic therapy can be used to treat tumors that have grown just under the skin or in the lining of organs, where the light can reach. Some benefits of photodynamic therapy include:

  • Can be performed multiple times
  • Little to no scarring
  • Non-invasive
  • Outpatient procedure

How does photodynamic therapy work?

Tumor tissue is especially sensitive to Photofrin, a dye that is activated by a laser light to produce oxygen and destroy tumor tissue. The doctor will inject you with Photofrin 48 hours before the photodynamic therapy session. During this time, your body’s cells will absorb the Photofrin, but normal cells will shed it while tumor cells hold onto it.

After 48 hours, your doctor will guide the laser light to the tumor during a bronchoscopy procedure. The Photofrin will absorb the light and destroy the cancer cells. After 48 hours, the doctor will perform another bronchoscopy to remove the dead tumor tissue. Photodynamic therapy can also damage the blood vessels that feed the tumor and prevent it from getting necessary nutrients.

In some cases, you may need a second laser therapy session and bronchoscopy to remove dead tumor tissue.

Are there complications related to photodynamic therapy?

The major potential complication of photodynamic therapy is light sensitivity. There is a risk for a severe reaction to natural sunlight. To avoid this, you will need to wear clothing that completely covers your body and stay out of direct sunlight for about a month after the Photofrin injection.

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