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The Future of Photodynamic Therapy

Researchers continue to study ways to improve the effectiveness of photodynamic therapy and expand it to other cancers. Clinical trials (research studies) are under way to evaluate the use of photodynamic therapy for cancers of the brain, skin, prostate, cervix, and peritoneal cavity (the space in the abdomen that contains the intestines, stomach, and liver). Other research is focused on the development of photosensitizers that:
 
  • Are more powerful
  • Target cancer cells more specifically
  • Are activated by light that can penetrate tissue and treat deep or large tumors.
 
Researchers are also investigating ways to improve equipment and the delivery of the activating light.
 

Photodynamic Therapy: A Summary

The following is a summary of key points on photodynamic therapy:
 
  • This type of therapy combines a drug (called a photosensitizer or photosensitizing agent) with a specific type of light to kill cancer cells
 
  • The FDA has approved the photosensitizing agent called porfimer sodium, or Photofrin, for use in photodynamic therapy to treat or relieve the symptoms of certain cancers
 
  • People treated with porfimer sodium should avoid direct sunlight and bright indoor light for at least six weeks after treatment
 
  • Researchers continue to study ways to improve the effectiveness of photodynamic therapy and expand its use to other cancers.
     
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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