What is the role of photodynamic therapy in the treatment of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC)?

Updated: Jul 08, 2020
  • Author: Talib Najjar, DMD, MDS, PhD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Actinic keratosis can also be treated with photodynamic therapy, which uses light, a photosensitizing drug, and oxygen to induce targeted cell death of neoplastic or abnormal tissue. In this treatment, sensitization of the target tissue is selective and occurs through the topically or systemically administered photosensitizing agent. The resulting photochemical reaction causes inflammation and destruction of the targeted lesion(s) via highly reactive oxygen intermediates and free radicals.

Photodynamic therapy is used primarily to treat large numbers of actinic keratoses in a single session. SCCIS is also amenable to photodynamic therapy, although a wide range of recurrence rates (0-52%) have been reported.

The efficacy of topical medications for the treatment of actinic damage is difficult to measure because biopsies are rarely performed before and after treatment (to compare results). Instead, improved skin appearance is used as a gauge for apparent resolution of early SCCIS lesions. For a full discussion of treatment of these lesions, see Actinic Keratosis .

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