Photodynamic Therapy for Mesothelioma-4 commonly asked questions

One of the newest and most exciting types of therapy for mesothelioma is called photodynamic therapy (PDT). These are 4 commonly asked questions about this form of treatment.

1. How does photodynamic therapy work?

A drug called Photofrin is injected into a patient, this drug specifically targets and bonds to mesothelioma cells. When the patient is exposed to laser or high intensity light, the photofrin on the cancer cells become active and kill the tumor cells. Doctors insert a fiber optic cable into the patient's chest, and turn on the light on the chest area.

2. How does the light work?

The light interacts with the drug, creating a special kind of oxygen that eats away the cancerous cells. Timing and aim are critical in PDT, it takes some time for the drug to actually concentrate in the cancer cells and leave the normal cells. When applied at the right time the light only affects the cancerous cells without disturbing the normal cells.

3. What are the drawbacks of photodynamic therapy?

The main drawbacks of this therapy are that the laser light is not very strong, typically only penetrating three centimeters or so, so PDT is best used against tumors that are close to the skin or on the surface of the internal organs, for tumors that have penetrated deep into the organs it might not be of significant help. The drugs used in this type of therapy are often absorbed by healthy cells as well, but usually dissipates very quickly, allowing them to regenerate where the cancerous cells had taken over.

4.What are the side effects of photodynamic therapy ?

There are also significant side effects. The major side effect is photosensitivity to sunlight {increased sensitivity to sunlight}, so a patient must avoid the sun for up to six weeks or risk sun damage. Furthermore, many patients report a metallic taste in their mouths accompanied by severe nausea. Nevertheless, this radical new treatment has demonstrated a marked improvement in many of the clinical trials, but is yet to be approved for general use.

Reference:Bello Kamorudeen


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