Weitz & Luxenberg Provides Information on Photodynamic therapy for asbestos lung cancer
My aunt has asbestos lung cancer. When I went with her to the doctor to discuss possible treatment options, he mentioned one I had never heard before: photodynamic therapy. What is photodynamic therapy and is it any better than the standard treatments (chemotherapy, radiation etc.)?
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a treatment that employs the use of photosensitizing agents which work with light to kill asbestos lung cancer cells. These agents can only be activated when they have been exposed to light.
Facts about Photodynamic Therapy:
- “It was first used to treat cancer in the early 1900s” (Boone Dermatology Clinic)
- It has been used to treat a number of illnesses including esophageal cancer, skin cancer, asbestos lung cancer and Barrett esophagus (a condition that can lead to esophageal cancer if surgery is not performed)
- It can also be used to treat minor skin condition such as acne. It is also used to improve skin quality i.e.: minimizing the appearance of wrinkles around the eyes.
- Alternative names include “photo radiation therapy, phototherapy or photo-chemotherapy.” (American Cancer Society)
How is Photodynamic Therapy Performed?
The doctor will inject a “photosensitizing agent into your aunt’s blood stream. This agent is absorbed by cells all over the body, but it stays in asbestos lung cancer cells longer than it does in normal cells. Approximately 24 to 72 hours after your great aunt is injected with the agent, the tumor is exposed to light. The photosensitizer in the tumor absorbs the light and produces an active form of oxygen that destroys nearby cancer cells.” (American Cancer Society)
What are the names of the PDT drugs?
Porfimer Sodium: “The most widely used and studied photosensitizer.” (NCI)
Aminolevulinic Acid: This drug is “put directly onto the skin. Your aunt is not likely to receive it because it is geared towards skin conditions and diseases.
Methyl Ester of Ala: This type of drug has been significantly improved since it was first developed. “A disadvantage of the older version of Methyl Ester of Ala is that they couldn’t penetrate cancer cells easily, but newer ester versions can.” (NCI) This is also geared towards skin conditions and diseases.
Pros of Photodynamic Therapy:
- It can be effective in helping your great aunt live longer and have a better quality of life.
- “It has not been shown to cause any long term problems when used properly.” (American Cancer Society)
- “It is less invasive than surgery.” (American Cancer Society)
- “It can be targeted with precision” (American Cancer Society). This means that it can effectively destroy your great aunt’s asbestos lung cancer cells.
- There is little to no scarring.
- “Unlike radiation, PDT can be repeated multiple times at the same site if needed.” (American Cancer Society)
- It is often less expensive than chemotherapy, radiation and other cancer treatments.
Cons of Photodynamic Therapy:
- PDT “can only treat areas of the body that are accessible by light.” (American Cancer Society) The light that is “needed to activate most photosensitizers can’t pass through a third of an inch of tissue (1 centimeter approximately).” (NCI) Therefore, If your aunt’s cancer has metastasized deep inside of her body, the PDT would only be so effective.
- Like all medical treatments, PDT is not without its side effects. Your aunt’s “skin and eyes may become sensitive to light for approximately 6 weeks after she receives treatment.” (NCI) Her medical professional will advise her to stay out of the sun as much as possible.
- Other side effects of PDT include: “burning, swelling, pain and scarring in nearby health tissue, as well as coughing, difficulty swallowing, stomach pain, painful breathing and shortness of breath.” (NCI) Fortunately most of these side effects are transient.
Weitz & Luxenberg can help your aunt find support in this difficult time
The burden of undergoing any asbestos lung cancer treatment should not be coupled with the burden of medical bills and debt.
Weitz & Luxenberg can help your aunt in her pursuit for compensation. We are a major, New York-based law firm that has the time, resources, and patience to move at your pace. We will guide your aunt through the legal process so that she can secure as much money as possible.
Contact us today for more information. You can call us at (800) 476-6070, or fill out the form on this page.
Boone Dermatology Clinic: www.boonedermatology.com/bluelight.html
National Cancer Institute (NCI): www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/photodynamic
American Cancer Society: