Photodynamic therapy vs. cryotherapy for actinic keratoses

August 27, 2014

Photodynamic therapy (PDT, which uses topical agents and light to kill tissue) appears to better clear actinic keratoses (AKs, a common skin lesion caused by sun damage) at three months after treatment than cryotherapy (which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze lesions).

AKs are rough, scaly on the skin typically found on individuals with fair complexions who have had lots of sun exposure. The lesions have the potential to become cancer. PDT is an increasingly popular treatment.

The authors compared PDT with cryotherapy in a meta-analysis of four studies that included 641 patients with a total of 2,174 AKs treated with cryotherapy and 2,170 lesions treated with PDT.

Patients treated with PDT had a 14 percent better chance of complete lesion clearance at three months after treatment than cryotherapy for thin AKs on the face and scalp.

"An analysis of the effectiveness of PDT compared with other treatments may help physicians decide what role it should play in their own clinical practice." Gayatri Patel, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of California Davis Medical Center, in Sacramento, and colleagues said in their JAMA Dermatology article.

In a related editorial, Harvey Lui, M.D., F.R.C.P.C., of the University of British Columbia, writes: "Notwithstanding the apparent superiority of PDT to cryotherapy, the light-based approach to treating AK has three major limitations. The current financial remuneration model is a major disincentive. … Although PDT appears to be a simple concept, in practice optimal results may require longer drug incubation times and perhaps light-dose fractionation to generate a sufficient tissue effect. … Finally, local pain owing to photosensitizer activation during light exposure is perhaps the most striking adverse effect that clinicians need to anticipate and manage during PDT."

"All three of these limiting factors necessitate added time and resources compared with the relatively brief outpatient visits for , in which is simply and efficiently dispensed to the skin," Lui notes.

Explore further: Multimodal palliative approach OK for advanced esophageal CA

More information: JAMA Dermatology. Published online August 27, 2014. DOI: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.1253
JAMA Dermatology. Published online August 27, 2014. DOI: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.1869

Related Stories

Multimodal palliative approach OK for advanced esophageal CA

February 27, 2012

(HealthDay) -- For patients with advanced esophageal cancer, use of an individualized, multimodal approach with palliative intention achieves an acceptable mean survival time, with initial use of photodynamic therapy (PDT) ...

Light dynamics for cancer treatment

May 3, 2012

Research is delving into refinement of a revolutionary cancer treatment, photodynamic therapy (PDT). Using light, reactive oxygen and photosensitisers linked to specially designed antibodies, scientists are on the threshold ...

Biochips for better cancer therapy

February 25, 2014

Cancer is the second leading cause of disease-related death in the United States, and may overtake heart disease without aggressive new therapies. One promising area of cancer treatment is photodynamic therapy (PDT), which ...

Recommended for you

Monkeys in Asia harbor virus from humans, other species

November 19, 2015

When it comes to spreading viruses, bats are thought to be among the worst. Now a new study of nearly 900 nonhuman primates in Bangladesh and Cambodia shows that macaques harbor more diverse astroviruses, which can cause ...

One-step test for hepatitis C virus infection developed

November 14, 2015

UC Irvine Health researchers have developed a cost-effective one-step test that screens, detects and confirms hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Dr. Ke-Qin Hu, director of hepatology services, will present findings at the ...

Computer model reveals deadly route of Ebola outbreak

November 10, 2015

Using a novel statistical model, a research team led by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health mapped the spread of the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, providing the most detailed picture to date ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.