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Photodynamic Therapy in Treating a Subset of Basal Cell Carcinoma: Strengths, Shortcomings, Comparisons with Surgical Modalities, and Potential Role as Adjunctive Therapy.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common skin cancer, for which there are multiple treatment options, including the gold standard Mohs micrographic surgery (MMS), surgical excision, electrodesiccation and curettage, radiation therapy, cryosurgery, and photodynamic therapy (PDT). While PDT is currently approved for treating actinic keratosis, it has been used off-label to treat BCC patients who may not tolerate surgery or other treatment modalities. We present a review of the efficacy of these modalities and describe important considerations that affect the usage of PDT and MMS. ALA-PDT and MAL-PDT are both efficacious treatment options for lower-risk BCC that can serve as non-invasive alternatives to surgical excision with favorable cosmetic outcomes in patients unsuitable to undergo surgery. In particular, PDT may be considered an adjuvant for the prevention and treatment of BCC lesions in patients with some genetic syndromes such as Gorlin syndrome, and in combination with surgical excision in lesions presenting in certain locations. Limitations to PDT include lack of margin control to prevent recurrence, pain, and cost of certain photosensitizers. Future studies should investigate the role of PDT as adjunctive therapy, standardization of protocols, and causes and ways to address recurrence following PDT treatment.

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