Phototherapy or photodynamic therapy is a procedure involving a special drug (photosensitizer) which is applied topically and light of a certain wavelength which determines the depth of the combined effect of the drug and light in the skin. In Dr. Niin’s Skin Clinic, we use aminolevulinic acid (ALA) as the photosensitizer and Omnilux PDT photodynamic therapy equipment (so-called red LED light). During photodynamic treatment, aminolevulinic acid activated by exposure to the light source penetrates and kills the targeted tumour cells.
Photodynamic procedure is used to treat non-melanoma skin tumours, such as
- actinic keratosis: scaly growth caused by damage from exposure to sunlight which could develop into skin cancer (precancerosis);
- Bowen’s disease: red scaly or crusty patch which is squamous cell carcinoma in situ (cancer cells are only in the outermost layer of the skin);
- superficial basal-cell carcinoma (depth less than 2 mm): slowly growing malignant skin cancer which originates from the superficial layer of the skin.
The main advantages of photodynamic treatment are non-invasiveness, effectiveness and a very good cosmetic result. This procedure also allows concurrent treatment of several lesions. Primarily due to its effect and cosmetic result, phototherapy is the first choice for the treatment of actinic keratosis and superficial basal-cell carcinoma.
Phototherapy procedure has three steps: preparation of the lesion by removing the crusty patch, application of photosensitizer drug (aminolevulinic acid) and photodynamic therapy, the length of which is indicated by the physician depending on the particular disease and its progress.
Side effects from this procedure are minimal. Right after the procedure, the patient may experience redness and swelling in the treated area, some itchiness is also possible. Next days may appear scale and crust formation. The treated area must be protected from sunlight 48 hours after photodynamic treatment.
The procedure is performed by Dermato-oncologist Dr. Marianne Niin, Dermatovenereologist Dr. Kai Saluvere, Dermatovenereologist Dr. Kreete Põder and Dr. Ulvi Loite.