Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a new treatment that is attracting increasing interest for the treatment of a range of cancers, often in combination with conventional treatment using surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, although sometimes on its own. Developing new applications of PDT is one of the main research interests of the National Medical Laser Centre, based at University College London (UCL) and University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH). There is greater experience of PDT in this hospital than anywhere else in the UK, with few comparable research groups anywhere in Europe or North America.
The PDT treatments provided as a routine service in UCLH are:
a) Pre-cancerous conditions – actinic keratosis, Bowen’s disease
b) Certain types of basal cell carcinoma (BCC, also known as rodent ulcers)
PDT is NOT suitable for malignant melanoma
All stages of cancers of the head and neck region (outside the skull), particularly the mouth (from pre-cancer to advanced cancers), for selected patients. For pre-cancer, PDT can be used as the only treatment. For advanced cancers, it is more frequently used with conventional treatments, especially for disease that persists or recurs after surgery or radiotherapy.
PDT is offered to a small number of patients with very early cancers or pre-cancers of the lungs who are not suitable for conventional treatment with surgery or radiotherapy.
Referral for PDT is via the tumour specific specialist Multidiscplinary teams (MDTs). Please refer to individual referral pages for the particular type of cancer for more details.