Skin Cancers

Skin Cancers Treatment with Photodynamic Therapy

Skin cancer and pre-cancer treatments using PDT are available in UK hospitals and specialist dermatology clinics. PDT can treat basal cell carcinomas and Bowen’s disease. Also Actinic keratoses. The problem often comes when patients want to get the treatment because, at the time of writing, there are apparently 100 hospitals and dermatology units offering PDT using either ALA or Metvix creams. The problem is drug budget rationing that can often limit the availability of PDT. The crime is that patients are SUITABLE for PDT offered are being deprived of it. The question we have to ask is: is Patient Choice being denied?

Surgery is regarded as a low-cost option for the PCT, and depending on where the cancer is on the body, it could be totally a totally acceptable option for the patient. But if the cancer is on the face or upper body, this may not be the case. A biopsy will leave a small scare, and surgery will result in a scar that the patient might find unsightly and thus plastic surgery will be required. Put simply, the surgical options may not be the best option for the patient, and even where the hospital employs surgeons and plastic surgeons, there IS a cost to offering this service. It is hard to estimate how many of the most common skin cancers and pre-cancers are detected and treated surgically. It could easily be 150,000 a year. The PDT treatment involves a cream that is applied to the cancer, followed some hours later by exposure by a lamp or small non-thermal laser. Cosmetically, a patient treated in this way will make a full cosmetic recovery and not require any plastic surgery. The cost of the cream is around £200 per patient. Please click here goto our UK PDT treament centres page to find your nearest NHS or Private clinic, offering PDT for ‘thin’ basal cell carcinomas, Bowen’s disease or pre cancers, nor squamous cell carcinomas.

What we can provide is a copy of a Patient Leaflet about the Metvix PDT treatment. This may be helpful to patients who will wish to make their own decision about the treatment. Patients should present this to their GP and make their request for PDT. For many deeper skin cancers (unsuitable for ALA or Metvix), there is a second option of using a Foscan (drug) treatment that is available on the NHS via a very small number of NHS centres. If a patient is told that the cancer is too deep and they would still like PDT but with Foscan or another drug, please contact any of the centres offering PDT for head and neck cancers. They may be prepared to help.

There are several Patient Stories on this website about patients treated with PDT for skin cancers. There are also press cuttings. Facial skin cancers can grow close to the eyes, over nerves or arteries and, in these cases, PDT is particularly important as a treatment option if surgical consequences want to be avoided.

If the list of centres does not feature a centre close to you - or you have further questions - please email: