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Photodynamic Therapy for Skin Cancer

Photodynamic therapy for skin cancer combines a chemical and a special light source to kill cancer cells. First, a cream is applied to the skin or a chemical is injected. Several hours or days later, the light is focused on the growth, activating the chemical and causing it to destroy nearby cancer cells. Photodynamic therapy for skin cancer may cause burning, stinging, or redness.

Photodynamic Therapy for Skin Cancer: An Overview

Photodynamic therapy for skin cancer uses a chemical along with a special light source, such as a laser light, to kill cancer cells. The chemical is a photosensitizing agent. In photodynamic therapy, a cream is applied to the skin or the chemical is injected, which stays in cancer cells longer than in normal cells. Several hours or days later, the special light is focused on the growth. The chemical becomes active and destroys nearby cancer cells. Photodynamic therapy is often used to treat cancer on or very near the surface of the skin.
 

Side Effects of Photodynamic Therapy for Skin Cancer

The side effects of photodynamic therapy are usually not serious. Photodynamic therapy may cause:
 
  • Burning or stinging pain
  • Burns, swelling, or redness
  • Scarring of healthy tissue near the growth.
 
If you have photodynamic therapy for skin cancer, you will need to avoid direct sunlight and bright indoor light for at least six weeks after treatment.
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