Photodynamic therapy for non-melanoma skin cancers

Diana K. Cohen, Peter K. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is traditionally treated with surgical excision. Non-surgical methods such as cryotherapy and topical chemotherapeutics, amongst other treatments, are other options. Actinic keratosis (AKs) are considered precancerous lesions that eventually may progress to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Photodynamic therapy (PDT) offers an effective treatment for AKs, and is also effective for superficial basal cell carcinoma (BCC). Nodular BCC and Bowen's disease (SCC in situ) have shown acceptable response rates with PDT, although recurrence rates are higher for these two NMSC subtypes. Methylaminolevulinate (MAL) PDT is a more effective treatment option than 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) PDT for nodular BCC. Several studies have shown that PDT results in superior cosmetic outcomes compared to surgical treatment. PDT is overall well-tolerated, with pain being the most common side effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number90
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by the authors.


  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Non-melanoma skin cancer
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Squamous cell carcinoma


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