Photodynamic therapy (PDT)

Photodynamic therapy, also known as PDT, is a technique for treating early localised skin cancers and sun-damaged skin which may one day turn cancerous (pre- cancers). 



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What is it for?

Treatment for localised skin cancers

Treatment overview

PDT involves applying a special cream to the affected area of skin followed by shining a highly targeted light to destroy cancer cells while leaving nearby healthy cells undamaged.

PDT can be used to treat various skin conditions including:

  • Basal cell carcinomas (BCCs)
  • Bowen’s disease (squamous cell carcinoma in situ) -  pre-cancerous condition
  • Actinic (solar) keratoses -  sun damage lesions,  pre-cancerous condition

At present, photodynamic therapy cannot be used to treat malignant melanomas (a rare type of skin cancer), although the technology is constantly evolving.


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Exceptional patient care is a way of life for us. Our nurses, clinicians and support teams are dedicated to the care of a very small number of patients, so have more time for you. They’ll be with you every step of the way, tailoring your care around you and giving the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing you’re in the best hands.

Effortlessly simple

We work together as one to guide you through each step of your experience, with complexities unravelled and answers readily to hand. Your personal treatment plan will be laid out for you, with all the details taken care of so you can focus on you.

What's included in your package?

Choosing The London Clinic means your treatment plan will be laid out for you, with all the details taken care of so you can focus on you.


Your treatment package will include:

  • Enhanced pre-admission assessment
  • Your treatment with our complete care team at your fingertips
  • Personalised aftercare and follow-up

We want you to be in control of your health. That’s why we also offer optional services such as comprehensive recovery packages and extra touches for you to choose from during your stay with us.

How to pay

  • You can use private medical insurance (PMI) to access this treatment. We work with all major PMI providers in the UK and many internationally
  • You can pay for yourself (self-pay)
  • If you’re paying for yourself, we have finance options available with Chrysalis


Photodynamic therapy involves the application of a photosensitiser (light sensitive) cream onto the affected skin. When light of a certain wavelength is shone onto it, the photosensitiser is activated. 

This affects the oxygen molecules within the cancerous skin cells, causing them to destroy the abnormal cells.

The photosensitiser alone is harmless, as is the light.

Only when the 2 are combined will they treat the abnormal area of your skin.

  • You will come to The London Clinic as an outpatient appointment
  • Cream containing the photosensitive agent is applied to the area of skin to be treated and covered with a dressing.
  • The cream takes 3 hours to be absorbed. During this time you may stay at the hospital or you may leave and return to the hospital later
  • Light from a special LED lamp is then shone on the target area for up to 10 minutes.
  • The treated area is dressed to protect it from exposure to light.

Treatment can be repeated a week apart dependent on the lesion.

After photodynamic therapy, the affected area will form a scab whilst its healing. The scab will then drop off, leaving healed skin with no scarring.

The photosensitive chemicals used will vary depending on the location and type of cancer.

Unlike chemotherapy or radiotherapy, photodynamic therapy skin cancer treatment is quick and easy and has very few side effects.

It can produce minor discomfort, such as a burning or tingling sensation, but this can be relieved with paracetamol, a local anaesthetic or/and with a cooling machine such as the cryocooler available in our Clinical Procedure Rooms.

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