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Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

Several methods are available to help destroy endobronchial (airway) cancers. Photodynamic therapy is a unique form of airway treatment using light energy to activate a systemic delivered drug. A medication, Photophrin, is given by intravenous injection and laser light energy is applied to the airway two to three days later. A chemical reaction results, which causes destruction of tumor cells that have absorbed the medication.

Why is it used?

  • Photophrin is a porphyrin derived medication that selectively enters tumor cells
  • When activated by light energy, free radicals are created, which are toxic to cancer cells, causing their destruction
  • This modality is ideal for larger airway tumors and can be repeated if necessary

What Makes Photodynamic Therapy Different (PDT)?

  • Unlike other therapies, PDT does not cause instantaneous tissue damage and is extremely safe, as it does not deliver significant thermal energy to the airway tissue
  • Since the chemical Photophrin is activated by laser light, the patient needs to avoid sunlight for up to 30 days after treatment is performed
  • Exposure to light during this time can result in sunburn to the skin, face, and eyes

Benefits of PDT

  • PDT is a slower modality to use for destroying airway cancers
  • Is as effective as laser treatment in improving airway patency (size)

Learn More About PDT

At UC San Diego Medical Center’s Interventional Pulmonology Unit, the following interventional pulmonologists specialize in performing PDT:

All referrals will still have the option of continuing their treatment with their primary care physicians after PDT.

For an appointment, for more information, or to find out how to refer a patient, please contact the Interventional Pulmonology Unit, 619-543-5840.

Interventional Pulmonology
UC San Diego Medical Center, 3rd Floor, South Wing
200 West Arbor Drive
San Diego, CA 619-543-5840