PDT is a treatment option used for low-risk skin cancers and sun spots. It is a minimally invasive and well-tolerated procedure that is conducted over a short period, including recovery. The cosmetic results are excellent with little risk of scarring, and the therapy can be used cosmetically to reduce pigmentation, reduce the appearance of capillaries and enhance skin texture.
What is it for?
PDT is used mainly for treatment of actinic keratosis, small early basal cell carcinomas and superficial lesions. It can also be used to successfully treat acne, often putting it into remission for months.
What should I expect during the procedure?
The area to be treated will be thoroughly cleansed to allow for better penetration of the topical agent. The photosensitizing cream is then applied to the entire surface area of the skin that requires treatment and will be allowed to absorb for several hours.
Then it will be activated by a specific-wavelength light, which will produce a form of oxygen that kills the cancer cells. PDT selectively destroys the targeted skin cancer cells while causing only minimal damage to the surrounding tissues. It has the added benefit of damaging the blood vessels feeding the cancer cells, and alerting the immune system to attack those cells.
What should I expect after the procedure?
The skin treated will be extremely light-sensitive for 48 hours until the topical agent is completely metabolised. For the first 2–3 days, there will be some redness and mild peeling. Occasionally, there can be a burning sensation for up to 24 hours after the procedure, and prolonged redness and peeling lasting 5–14 days. It is advisable to wear protective hats, clothing and thick sunblock containing zinc during this period of sensitivity along with exercising sun avoidance where at all possible.
How often is the treatment required?
Treatment usually needs to be repeated in 2 weeks to ensure the highest chance of cure when treating superficial skin cancer.
Treatment is only usually required on a single occasion when treating actinic keratoses (sun spots).
Does Medicare cover this procedure?
You will be quoted the out-of-pocket costs as Medicare does not provide a rebate for PDT.