Photodynamic therapy (PDT) appears useful in treating early-stage cancer of the mouth or oropharynx, either as a primary treatment or as an addition to unsuccessful surgery or radiation, according to research published in the January issue of Lasers in Surgery and Medicine.
Vanessa Gayl Schweitzer, M.D., and Melissa L. Somers, M.D., of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, discuss the outcomes of 30 patients with squamous cell carcinoma, stage Tis-T2N0M0, in the mouth or oropharynx. Most had undergone prior surgery or radiation, in combination or alone. All received intravenous porfimer sodium followed by photoactivation.
Over an average follow-up of two years, the researchers found that 80 percent had complete remission. Twenty percent of patients were partial responders and had recurrences at points ranging from three to 26 months. Five patients — four of whom were among the complete responders — developed new primary head and neck tumors.
“PDT is a promising additional local surgical oncologic modality for primary treatment of selective superficial carcinomas of the oral cavity and oropharynx with low risk for nodal metastases,” the authors conclude. “The development of new and more tumor-specific photosensitizing agents with longer wave-length activation and deeper tissue penetration with shorter skin photosensitivity post-drug administration will expand the application of PDT for the treatment of superficial head and neck cancers.”