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.
About Photodynamic Therapy Different (PDT)
- 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 and cause their destruction
- 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
- This modality is ideal for larger airway tumors and can be repeated if necessary
- PDT is a slower modality to use for destroying airway cancers
- It is as effective as laser treatment in improving airway patency (size)
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.