Photodynamic Therapy

Photodynamic therapy combines a photosensitizer agent (e.g., porfimer sodium or temoporfin) with a specific type of light in an oxygen-rich environment.72 The photosensitizer agent is injected into the bloodstream, and few hours later, when most of the agent is cleared from normal tissue but localized in cancer cells, the malignant tissue is irradiated with a light source. The photosensitizer agent in the tumor absorbs the light and raises the agent to an excited single state. The excited dye transfers energy to the available oxygen in the tumor, and the molecular oxygen is transformed into highly reactive singlet oxygen that oxidizes biological targets (e.g., cell membranes) killing nearby cancer cells. In addition to its direct effect on tumor cells, the photosensitizer may activate the immune system to attack tumor cells and also damage tumor blood vessels, thereby preventing cancer cells from receiving oxygen and nutrients or removing waste. Photodynamic therapy is currently used to treat or relieve symptoms of esophageal cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

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