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Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

Some skin cancers are best treated with a two-pronged attack. Skin Institute’s photodynamic therapy (PDT) can be such a treatment for some particular types of skin cancer, and is one of the most effective treatments for pre-cancerous skin cells.

 

Topical skin medication is combined with a special light source in PDT, providing you with a thorough treatment for Actinic Keratoses (AK) and certain types of Basal Cell Carcinomas (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCC) which more typically appear on the face and scalp, but can be treated anywhere on the body. If surgical removal isn’t a feasible option for your case, PDT can be an ideal solution.

At Skin Institute our motto is safe hands. We provide personalised health care that is of the highest of standard in a safe and caring environment which is something we are very proud of.

Mark Izzard
CCPDMA Surgeon, Facial Plastics, Reconstruction, Skin Cancer
Treatment Detail Sheet

This information may be useful to read prior to your skin cancer treatment.

Download Detail Sheet
Book a skin cancer consultation

Book a skin cancer consultation with one of our Doctors. You may be after a full body skin cancer assessment, or a consultation for a specific skin cancer concern. Whatever your need, we have Doctors available to help.

Book a Consultation
Book a skin cancer consultation

Book a skin cancer consultation with one of our Doctors. You may be after a full body skin cancer assessment, or a consultation for a specific skin cancer concern. Whatever your need, we have Doctors available to help.

Call 0800 SKIN DR (754 637)
Before and After Photos View all
About

A solution or cream is applied to the skin, and will be absorbed by the cancerous cells in the problem lesions. The solution we more commonly use is amino levulinic acid (ALA) and this is for bigger treatment areas across the face and scalp. One of the creams that may be used for spot treatments, Metvix, contains methyl aminoleyulinate and this ingredient causes compounds called porphyrins to accumulate and be absorbed by the cancerous cells.

The porphyrins are light sensitive – so when the cream is activated by the specialised light source, a chemical reaction is set off and the lesion is destroyed.

When you receive PDT, there are several things to be aware of before going in for the treatment:

  • Total time from start to finish of a single treatment of ALA is usually 2 hours, and done as an in-clinic treatment
  • Total time from start to finish of Metvix is is 3.5–4 hours, and is done in-clinic although you may leave the clinic during the ‘waiting time’ (more detail below)
  • 1–3 treatment sessions required
  • Paracetamol may help with discomfort
  • Follow up care may include prescription medicine
  • Up to 1 week off work required, depending on the treatment applied
Treatment

For ALA:

Your treatment will start off with a review of the skin site to be treated. Any scaly lesions they will be removed before the solution is applied. After application of the ALA, clingfilm is used to cover the solution to prevent evaporation and ensure good penetration. You will then have one hour to wait, in a darkened room, which is provided for your comfort at our clinic.  After 1 hour the solution is washed off and illuminated with a specialised red light.  This exposure can last for anywhere between 8 and 30 minutes, depending on what your individual needs are.

You’ll need 1-3 sessions spaced 1 month apart. to make sure that the lesion is sufficiently destroyed, as well as a follow-up appointment with the doctor a few weeks or months after the last treatment.

For Metvix:

Your treatment will start off with a 15-minute appointment to apply the cream to the necessary lesions, which will then be covered with a flesh-coloured dressing. You will then have three hours to wait while the cream is absorbed. You can leave the clinic, but you need to ensure that your dressing stays in place. Once you return to the clinic, the cream will be washed off, and immediately illuminated with a specialised red light. This exposure can last for anywhere between 8 and 20 minutes, depending on what your individual needs are.

You’ll need 2 treatment sessions spaced 7 days apart to make sure that the lesion is sufficiently destroyed, as well as a follow-up appointment with the doctor a few weeks or months after the last treatment.

Pain management and after care:

The procedure can be uncomfortable, so two paracetamol tablets can be taken 60 minutes before the treatment, and every 4–6 hours afterwards if required.

You’ll be given care instructions following the procedure, which may include prescription medication according to your needs. You need to ensure you apply sunscreen every day, regardless of whether it’s sunny – even in winter.

If you’ve been treated with ALA you will need 1 week off work. Metvix patients may or may not need time off work, and your practitioner will advise.

Why Skin Institute?

At Skin Institute, we understand that skin cancer can be an intimidating diagnosis to come to terms with. Our multidisciplinary clinics are thoroughly experienced with skin cancer management – and our team of highly-qualified specialists will guide you through from diagnosis to treatment to a healthier tomorrow. You can rely on us to be at your side through the whole process.

Skin Institute is an Affiliated Provider to Southern Cross Health Society, and skin cancer treatments may be covered by medical insurance where criteria apply.


Book a Consultation
Book a skin cancer consultation

Book a skin cancer consultation with one of our Doctors. You may be after a full body skin cancer assessment, or a consultation for a specific skin cancer concern. Whatever your need, we have Doctors available to help.