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Photodynamic therapy (PDT) destroys cancer cells with a drug called a photosensitizer, which makes cells sensitive to light. For non-melanoma skin cancer, PDT may be used:
PDT is done in 2 stages:
PDT only destroys cancer cells near the surface of the skin that can be reached by the light. PDT cannot be used for basal cell carcinoma that has spread into deeper layers or for invasive squamous cell carcinoma because the risk of recurrence is too high.
Usually only one treatment of PDT is needed, but 2–3 more treatments may be given for a thicker skin cancer.
People treated with PDT may need close follow-up after treatment to check if the cancer has returned.
After treatment, people need to take special precautions because the photosensitizer makes the skin sensitive to light. A dressing is put on the area to cover and protect it from light. This is usually kept on for about 36 hours.
PDT may not be available at all treatment centres.
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