Posted by on 05/26/2018

Photodynamic Therapy and Mesothelioma

Photodynamic Therapy and Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma remains incurable, but researchers are on their way to discover new treatment methods. Among these, photodynamic therapy (PDT) shows much potential in curing the disease. Also known as photoradiation therapy, phototherapy, or photochemotherapy, this involves a drug that is intravenously given to a patient and is activated by a particular light. The process then produces a type of oxygen that kills cancer cells.

However, the drug is already approved for treating esophageal and non-small cell lung cancer. For mesothelioma, patients are currently seeking clinical trials in the hopes to cure the disease.

How Does It Work?

Here are your Mesothelioma Treatment Options | Mesothelioma Explained:

The photosensitizing agent, porfimer sodium, will not work alone without the activating light. For procedures involving surgery, it is injected before conducting the operation. It takes about 24 to 72 hours for the agent to pass through our body, but it stays longer on cancer cells. After such, the area for treatment is subjected to a particular light, which activates the porfimer sodium.

For intraoperative dynamic therapy, the surgeon starts the procedure by the time the drug isn’t present on the healthy cells. Then, the parts with mesothelioma tumor were removed, and the special light will be used to activate the agent. It is done by inserting a fiber optic to a patient’s body. Once the photosensitizing agent is triggered, it produces a form of oxygen that destroys the cancer cells.

The therapy also destroys the surrounding blood vessels, preventing the diseased parts to get nutrients. Photodynamic therapy is often combined with other treatment methods such as immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. It is because the treatment itself may activate the immune system to reinforce killing the cancer cells.

The Side Effects

Photodynamic therapy is not without side effects, although these are mostly minor as compared to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The most prominent side effect is sensitivity to light that lasts about six weeks after the treatment. Others include burning, pain, and scarring in the healthy tissues near the treatment site. Patients also complain of painful breathing, coughing and chest pain. You should speak with your oncologist before you undergo the therapy. Since this is a clinical trial, you need to be comfortable as much as possible during the course of the treatment.

Is Photodynamic Therapy for You?

This treatment shows promise for mesothelioma patients, but it comes with considerable pros and cons. We urge you to weigh these factors first before seeking the treatment. Photodynamic therapy is relatively more affordable than other treatment options. It does not have lasting side effects nor accumulating toxicity so the process can be done again and again if the situation warrants. Moreover, the photosensitizing agent does not cause much damage to nearby cells. The treatment period is also considerably short.

However, photodynamic therapy only affects those areas that light can reach. Thus, it is often combined with surgery for the best prognosis. It is also ineffective for cases where cancer has metastasized to other parts. The light sensitivity aside, photodynamic therapy is not applicable for people having blood diseases such as porphyria.

The Present Status of Photodynamic Therapy

The therapy gave hopes for mesothelioma to a better quality of life and longer life expectancy. Note that photodynamic treatment remains a clinical trial for patients seeking options to treat mesothelioma potentially.

You can always talk to your doctor or the mesothelioma community about this new treatment.

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