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Side Effects of Photodynamic Therapy

Side Effects of Photodynamic Therapy

Introduction

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment that uses special drugs, sometimes called photosensitizing agents, along with light to kill cancer cells. The drugs only work after they have been activated or “turned on” by certain kinds of light. PDT can be used in people with certain types of cancer to help them live longer and improve their quality of life. It’s becoming more widely recognized as a valuable treatment option for certain types of localized cancers. 

Side effects of PDT

  • 1.Photosensitivity reactions: The most common side effect of PDT is sensitivity to bright lights and sunlight. These reactions caused by Photodynamic therapy light can show up on the skin where the drug is applied. They usually involve redness and a tingling or burning sensation. For a period of time after treatment, you’ll need to be careful to not expose treated areas of your face and scalp to light. Sunscreens will not protect the skin from photosensitive reactions.

Few precautions to be taken- 

  • Stay out of strong, direct light.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible.
  • Wear protective clothing and wide-brimmed hats to avoid sunlight when outdoors.
  • Avoid beaches, snow, light coloured concrete, or other surfaces where strong light may be reflected.
  • 2.Skin changes: Depending on the type and location of treatment, the treated skin might turn red and may swell for a period of time. With some treatments, blisters may form. This may last hours to days after treatment. The skin may also have a burning sensation or maybe itchy or change colour after treatment. 
  • 3.Swelling and pain: Swelling in the treated area can lead to pain and problems with the tissues and organs working properly. Be sure to ask your doctor which side effects you might expect and which you need to report right away. 
  • 4.Immune system changes: Sometimes PDT treatments can make the immune system work differently, usually by stimulating it to work more. Sometimes it can become weaker for a period of time. In very rare cases, Photodynamic therapy can cause skin cancer at the site where treatment was given. Some researchers believe this happens if the immune system is weakened by PDT.

Other side effects may occur depending on the area that is treated, including:

  • Cough
  • trouble swallowing
  • stomach pain
  • painful breathing
  • shortness of breath
  • skin problems, such as redness, stinging, swelling, or itching
Photodynamic therapy

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