Photodynamic Therapy

What Is Photodynamic Therapy?

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment that is FDA-approved for the treatment of precancerous lesions called actinic keratoses (AKs) and is especially useful for widespread AKs on the face and scalp, as well as the arms and hands. It is sometimes used for superficial basal cell carcinomas or squamous cell carcinomas. PDT is a combination treatment requiring the application of a photosensitizing agent to the skin, followed by illumination with blue visible light.

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How Does Photodynamic Therapy Work?

A topical agent (photosensitizer) is applied to the precancers and to surrounding skin areas. The patient then waits for a period of time to allow absorption of this agent into the skin. After this incubation period, a strong blue light is used to illuminate these areas and activate the photosensitizing agent.  This selectively destroys the precancers while causing minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Some redness, pain, peeling, flaking and swelling can result. After the procedure, patients must strictly avoid sunlight for at least 40 hours, as UV exposure will increase activation of the medication and may cause severe sunburns.

What Does Photodynamic Therapy Treat?

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is FDA-approved for the treatment of precancerous lesions called actinic keratoses (AKs) and is especially useful for widespread AKs on the face and scalp, as well as the arms and hands. At Helena Dermatology, we offer PDT as a treatment option for precancerous skin lesions,  to help reduce your risk of developing skin cancer.

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What to Expect During Your Visit

When you arrive at our Helena, MT center, we will provide you with a comprehensive consultation as well as cancer screening to diagnose your condition. Some additional testing in the form of a blood draw or biopsy may be required as well. Once we assess your cancer risk or come to a diagnosis, we can schedule an appointment for PDT or provide you with a Mohs surgery referral.

Results From Treatment

Photodynamic therapy treatments vary in length and session amount depending on the severity of your condition. The main side effect of this treatment is sensitivity to sunlight for approximately six weeks. In addition, PDT can cause burns, swelling, pain, and scarring near the treatment area. Several PDT sessions can produce best results. We encourage you to schedule follow-up appointments as you need them.

Photodynamic Therapy in Helena, MT

Helena Dermatology is here to provide you with the care and support you need. If you believe you may have skin cancer, we invite you to take advantage of our cancer screening and PDT treatment services. We’re here to help you live a happier, healthier life. For expert dermatological care and ongoing support with a friendly smile, fill out the form below and schedule an appointment or give us a call at (406) 443-7200.


Request an Appointment

To schedule your appointment, please fill out the form below or give us a call at (406) 443-7200 today!

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We're happy to answer any questions you may have, feel free to call us at
(804) 775-4559