One of the newest and most exciting types of therapy for mesothelioma is called photodynamic therapy (PDT).
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What’s the problem?
Sometimes referred to as photoradiation, photochemotherapy, or phototherapy, photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a mesothelioma treatment that involves the use of a drug called a photosensitizing agent, activated by exposure to light and used to destroy cancer cells. Depending on the extent of your disease, your doctor may suggest photodynamic therapy for the treatment of your mesothelioma.
Photodynamic therapy begins with the injection of a photosensitizing drug. This drug is administered intravenously into the bloodstream, and over a period of 24 to 72 hours the drug travels throughout the body and is absorbed by cells.
After the drug administration phase, the patient is treated with light of a specified wavelength that reacts to the photosensitizing drug present in cancer cells. A physician simply shines a beam of light on the affected area, which may last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. During treatment, cancer cells absorb the light, which causes them to produce a form of oxygen that is highly reactive. The oxygen eventually enters nearby cancer cells and damages them, resulting in death of the affected cells. In addition, photodynamic therapy can also destroy cancer cells by damaging blood vessels that are present in tumors, thus preventing cancer cells from absorbing nutrients.
Photodynamic therapy is much less invasive than surgery and results in less scarring than many traditional therapies. It can also be precisely targeted at a particular area. Unlike conventional radiation therapy, which can cause burns and other concerns when repeated, PDT can be used over and over again in the same area without causing damage.
Breakthroughs linking PDT with successful treatment of mesothelioma are on the horizon. Recently, doctors have begun experimenting with a procedure that involves the use of photodynamic therapy during surgery to help prevent the recurrence of cancer on large surfaces. Such surfaces would include the peritoneum (lining of the abdomen) and the pleura (lining of the lung), two areas usually affected in mesothelioma patients.
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