Photodynamic Therapy for Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis – also known as AK — is a pre-cancerous condition that presents as small patches on areas of the skin that have been heavily exposed to the sun. These patches may be red, rough, flaky, scaly or even appear as sores. The use of photodynamic therapy (PDT) can help destroy pre-cancerous cells without harming healthy tissues. PDT uses a combination of photosensitizing drugs and light to target cancer and cancer-causing cells. Treatment is usually administered over the course of several light therapy sessions.

Did you know…

that people with naturally light or fair skin are more likely to develop actinic keratosis? Chances of developing the condition increase with age and increased sun exposure. Although AK can occur anywhere on the body, the head, neck, arms, hands and lower legs are most likely to be affected.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need photodynamic therapy for my actinic keratosis?

You may need PDT treatment if you have been diagnosed with actinic keratosis. Rather than wait for AK to transform into skin cancer, you can stop it before it has an opportunity to evolve into squamous cell carcinomas.

What should I expect during photodynamic therapy?

PDT treatment occurs over the course of a few hours or a couple of days. Depending on where your actinic keratosis is located, photosensitizing medications may be administered topically or intravenously. Several hours later, you’ll wear protective goggles while light is applied to the treatment area. It activates the medication to produce a chemical that destroys pre-cancerous and cancerous cells. You may experience a stinging sensation during your treatment although this will subside after treatment.

Will I need to follow any special instructions following photodynamic therapy?

Yes. Because photosensitizing medications specifically interact with light, you may be instructed to limit your exposure to sunlight or heat in the days following treatment. Your AK spots or lesions may take several weeks to disappear, and additional PDT treatments may be necessary to achieve desirable results.

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