Photodynamic therapy regards a cancer cell as a single-celled organism. It proceeds on the premise that if a cancer cell is treated with a light-sensitive drug and then exposed to a light of a specific wavelength, it will die.
PDT Has Two Steps
- The light-sensitive drug (photosensitizer) is administered through an intravenous line. Over the next few days it is naturally eliminated from the body’s normal cells and concentrates itself in cancer cells (a mesothelioma or other type of tumor).
- A laser is targeted on the tumor, where the treated cells absorb the light and produce a specific form of oxygen which destroys neighboring cells. Timing is important, as the laser step must be done after all or most of the light-sensitive drug is still present in the cancer cells but has left normal cells.
The photosensitizing drug can also damage blood vessels in the tumor, which deprives it of oxygen and nourishment, making it shrink. There is also some evidence that it can activate the immune system to attack tumor cells.
Rather than being shone through the skin and other tissue outside the pleura where the mesothelioma is located, the laser light is sent by means of a fiber optic cable. The cable is inserted into the body through an endoscope, which is a thin tube with a camera and light at its tip, which sends images to a computer. This gives your surgeon a clear and magnified view on the computer monitor of the tumor and what is happening in the area.
PDT is an outpatient procedure and may be combined with other more traditional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
If you or a loved one are suffering from mesothelioma because of a past employer’s use of asbestos and negligence in warning or protecting you from its dangers, please contact our experienced mesothelioma lawyers for a free consultation.