Photodynamic therapy can be used to treat some eye and skin conditions, as well as some cancers. The treatment involves using light sensitive medication and a light source to kill abnormal cells. On their own, the two components are harmless but once the light source activates the medication there is a reaction which damages nearby cells.

Photodynamic therapy is now starting to be used to treat pleural mesothelioma. This is usually used along with pleurectomy/decortication surgery in which the lining of the lung is removed along with any tumour masses.

Clinical trials of photodynamic therapy have shown that for pleural mesothelioma patients life expectancy was improved, particularly when used in addition to surgery.

The treatment can only be used on parts of the body that light can reach, this is generally just below the skin or along the lining of internal organs. This is why it is effective for mesothelioma as it affects the linings of the body.

Photodynamic therapy does not normally require the patient to stay in hospital and is usually done as an outpatient procedure. The light sensitive medication is injected into the bloodstream and is absorbed by all cells. Whilst it will have left healthy cells after a day or two, it will remain in any cancerous cells, including mesothelioma cells, longer. The light is then administered, normally with a laser. For pleural mesothelioma treatment fibre optic cables may be inserted into the lungs to target specific areas. When the light hits the cells that have retained the light sensitive medication there is a reaction which destroys the cells.

There are some side effects of photodynamic therapy. Patients need to be careful and avoid sunlight and bright lights for around six weeks after treatment as they will be sensitive to light. The treatment can also cause swelling, scarring or burning of healthy tissues.

Researchers are now looking into whether photodynamic therapy can be used to treat peritoneal mesothelioma.

If you require assistance in pursuing a mesothelioma claim or believe you have a valid asbestos claim for any other asbestos disease then please contact us today on our freephone number 0800 038 6767. Alternatively, head over to the ‘Contact Us’ page, complete the form and we will be in touch.

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