Photodynamic Therapy

The difficulty of treating mesothelioma is well known. Currently, the top treatments are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, but even these cannot cure the disease. In an effort to find more effective treatments, scientists and researchers are exploring many potential avenues. One of the most interesting of a number of new and alternative treatments being developed to combat mesothelioma is photodynamic therapy. This therapy uses the combined effects of photosensitive chemicals and targeted lasers to create and trigger a chemical process that ends in targeted cell death.

In the course of this treatment a patient is given a photosensitive chemical that can be taken up and processed by the cells of the body as well as the cancerous cells. The cancerous cells do not process this chemical as fast as a healthy cell would however, and it remains within those cells longer. If the patient is exposed to a targeted laser beam, often laproscopically, during the period of time between when the healthy cells have shed the chemical and the cancer cells have not, then the light will trigger a chemical process that literally destroys the cancerous cells. Best of all, the side effects to this treatment are relatively slight. The patient may be sensitive to light until his or her body has completely process the chemical, but for the most part, that is it. This treatment is still being studied, but it offers great potential in the pursuit of a definitive treatment for mesothelioma.