Photodynamic Therapy for Treatment of Actinic Keratosis
Treatment of Actinic Keratosis (Early Superficial Squamous Cell Skin Cancer) with Photodynamic Therapy, PDT with Levulan® Kerastick® (aminolevulinic acid HCl)
Actinic keratoses (AKs) are rough-textured, dry, scaly patches on the skin, most commonly on sun exposed areas. They are actually an early form of skin cancer. AKs should be treated to prevent progression to a more advanced form of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer (the most common is basal cell carcinoma (BCC).
The PDT starts with the application of the medication Levulan® Kerastick® (aminolevulinic acid HCl) to the affected area. The medication, a clear fluid, is generally left on for one hour and during that time it is absorbed by the AK cells. In the cells, the aminolevulinic medication is converted to a chemical that causes the cells to be very sensitive to certain frequencies of light. After the incubation period the medication is then activated with light. At MilfordMD the light sources we use may include the BLU-U® Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy Illuminator, the OmniLux or one of our many lasers. Once light activated, the medication destroys AKs.
After the treatment common effects include redness, scaling, itching, stinging, burning and swelling. The degree of these effects depends on many factors including the severity and number of the AKs present, the amount of time the medication is left on the skin before treatment and the frequency and strength of the light source used to activate the medication. In order to achieve maximum clearing of the AKs we usually recommend at least three treatments a minimum of a month apart. A follow up checkup allows for the evaluation of the treated areas using a dermatolumenescent microscope.
It is important to stay out of the sun for two days after each treatment and worth remembering that sunscreen are not adequate protection against visible light photosensitivity.