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How Does Photodynamic Therapy Differ From Chemotherapy?

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Cancer treatment has evolved significantly over the years, now offering patients a wider range of options tailored to their unique conditions. Among these treatments, photodynamic therapy (PDT) and chemotherapy stand out as distinctive approaches. Understanding the differences between chemo vs. photodynamic therapy is important for patients navigating the complex landscape of cancer care, and our caring team at Kotsanis Institute of Functional Medicine in Grapevine, TX is here to help. Keep reading for a helpful comparison of photodynamic therapy vs. chemotherapy to better understand which of these treatment options may be most suitable for you — and why.

What is photodynamic therapy for cancer?

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is an innovative cancer treatment that utilizes a combination of light and photosensitizing drugs to help destroy cancer cells. The process involves administering a photosensitizer drug, which is then activated by light of a specific wavelength. This activation generates a form of oxygen that kills nearby cancer cells. Unlike chemotherapy, which uses drugs to directly poison cancer cells, PDT harnesses the power of light to induce cell death.

What kinds of cancer can photodynamic therapy treat?

PDT is particularly effective for treating cancers close to the skin's surface that haven't spread to other organs. Some of the cancers that may respond well to this therapy include:

  • Basal cell cancer
  • Bowen's disease
  • Skin cancers
  • Actinic keratosis
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Non-small-cell lung cancer

What is the difference between PDT vs. chemo?

The fundamental difference between photodynamic therapy (PDT) and chemotherapy lies in their mechanisms of action. Photodynamic therapy utilizes light and photosensitizing drugs to selectively target and destroy cancer cells, relying on the activation of a photosensitizer by specific wavelengths of light. In contrast, chemotherapy involves the administration of drugs that circulate throughout the body, aiming to kill rapidly dividing cells, including both cancerous and healthy cells. While chemotherapy is a systemic treatment with potential widespread side effects, PDT is more localized and often causes milder and temporary side effects, making it a beneficial choice for patients who may not tolerate traditional chemo side effects well.

Is photodynamic therapy a substitute for chemotherapy?

While PDT can be utilized as a standalone treatment, especially in patients with weakened immune systems who wish to avoid the side effects of chemotherapy, it is not always considered a substitute for traditional cancer therapies. In many cases, PDT is employed in conjunction with chemotherapy and other standard treatments. If you have questions about whether PDT may be an appropriate replacement for chemo in your case, don’t hesitate to ask our knowledgeable team, who can discuss all of your available options in more detail based on your specific case.

Does photodynamic cancer treatment cause any side effects?

Like almost any medical procedure, photodynamic therapy does have potential side effects, but they are generally localized and temporary. Patients may experience skin sensitivity to light, swelling, and redness in the treated area. These effects typically subside after a short period. Still, PDT's side effects are often milder compared to the systemic effects commonly associated with chemotherapy, making it a more tolerable option for certain patients.

Photodynamic therapy in Grapevine, TX may be the gentle cancer treatment option you’re searching for

For those near Coppell, Flower Mound, or Bedford, TX considering photodynamic therapy, scheduling a consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced provider is the first step toward understanding whether this unique treatment may be effective and appropriate for you. Start your personalized cancer care journey with PDT by calling Kotsanis Institute of Functional Medicine in Grapevine, TX today.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.