Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a relatively new treatment modality for various types of cancer, including cancer of the head and neck. The advent of the second-generation photosensitizers such as meta-tetra(hydroxyphenyl)chlorin (mTHPC) (Foscan; Scotia Pharmaceuticals, Stirling, Scotland), which are more effective and less phototoxic to the skin than their forerunners, now makes this treatment a feasible alternative to surgery or radiotherapy in specific cases. To evaluate the long-term outcome of this therapy for squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck, we treated patients with PDT using mTHPC.
Tertiary cancer referral center.
Twenty-five patients with 29 T1-T2 N0 tumors of the oral cavity and/or oropharynx.
Main Outcome Measure
Complete local tumor remission.
The mean follow-up of the patients after treatment was 37 months. In 25 (86%) of 29 tumors, a complete remission of the primary tumor was obtained. In the 4 recurrences, salvage was achieved by conventional therapy. In none of the patients was any long-term functional deficit detected.
This study confirms that PDT is a powerful treatment modality that could be considered as an alternative to surgery or radiotherapy in specific cases of head and neck cancer. The major advantage of PDT over these conventional therapies is the reduction in long-term morbidity. Radiotherapy or surgery could be reserved for salvage therapy in the event of a recurrence or second primary tumors.