The treatment is effective for some superficial lesions such as superficial basal cell carcinomas and actinic keratoses (also called solar keratoses) and has a lower risk of scarring compared with surgery.
A skin biopsy is often required to confirm the diagnosis prior to treatment. The technique involves gently removing any crust from the lesion and applying a photosensitising cream. The cream contains an ingredient that is preferentially absorbed by the cancer cells and is sensitive to the special light that is shone onto the treatment area for a few minutes. The light is absorbed by the cancer cells causing them to be destroyed. Hence PDT selectively destroys the skin cancer whilst preserving the normal surrounding skin. On some occasions the PDT procedure is repeated 1 week later to increase the cure rate. PDT provides an excellent cosmetic result as it has a lower risk of scarring compared with surgery and has a relatively high cure rate, but it can only be used on certain types of skin cancer.
Photodynamic therapy is available at both Darlinghurst and Westmead.