The Norwich and Cromer dermatology departments also treat early skin cancers and areas of unstable skin at risk of skin cancer with photodynamic therapy. Only some very thin skin cancers are suitable for this. Most skin cancer is treated with Skin Cancer Surgery or with radiotherapy (X rays).
Cream is applied in the morning and then a bright red light is shone on the treated area three hours later to activate the cream which has been absorbed into the problem area.
The light is very bright as this photo shows. The patients wear goggles to protect the eyes.
Although it looks quite dramatic the treatment is popular with most patients.
If necessary local anaesthetic can be used. However it is very rare for patients to ask for this.
The cream used for PDT treatment is called 5ALA.
The only skin cancer treated with PDT is superficial BCC (rodent ulcer) less than 2 mm thick. The pre-cancers or sundamaged skin called Actinic (solar) keratosis and Bowens Disease is often treated in other ways.
The alternatives to PDT for these conditions include cryotherapy (treatment with liquid nitrogen), or creams e.g. 5FU cream (Efudix), imiquimod (Aldara) or Picato gel.