Cape Gazette
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Blue-Light Therapy for Prevention and Treatment of Skin Cancer

By The Swier Clinic | Sep 13, 2012

Summer is ending and fall is the perfect time to consider blue-light therapy for areas of your skin that have been over exposed to the sun and diagnosed as actinic keratoses.  

Actinic keratoses, also known as solar keratoses, are scaly bumps that range in size from pinhead to one inch and appear primarily in sun-exposed areas on the face, ears, head, lips and back of the hands and forearms. If left untreated, an estimated 10 percent of these precancerous lesions may eventually evolve into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.

Photodynamic, or blue-light, therapy for actinic keratosis can help treat and reduce the number of pre-cancers, hopefully reduce the number of full-fledged skin cancers and possibly help in photo-rejuvenation.

Pioneered in Europe, the therapy works by applying a light-sensitizing chemical solution to the skin area that needs treatment and then exposing the area to blue light. The photosensitive chemicals, which have been absorbed into the skin, react with the particular wavelength of blue light to generate reactive oxygen radicals that destroy the potentially precancerous or cancerous skin cells.

Photodynamic therapy can treat large areas of the patient's skin, usually with minimal discomfort, and offers some advantages over other treatments such as:

  • It has no long-term side effects when used properly
  • It is less invasive than surgery
  • It usually takes only a short time and is most often done as an outpatient
  • It can be targeted very precisely
  • Unlike radiation, PDT can be repeated many times at the same site if needed
  • There is little or no scarring after the site heals
  • It often costs less than other cancer treatments
  • Blue-Light Therapy can also be considered proactive and to some extent, preventative


People who work in farming or spend a lot of time outdoors without using sunscreen or protective clothing are at risk of developing actinic keratosis. In addition, people with fair skin, blonde or red hair, or blue, green or gray eyes are most at risk. However, even individuals with darker complexions can be at risk if they receive a lot of sun exposure.

Blue-Light Therapy involves an initial consultation regarding a specific lesion of concern, followed by a treatment visit.  The treatment involves the application of the photosensitizing liquid, aminolevulinic acid, which is applied to the patient's affected skin. The patient sits in a darkened room for about one hour while the liquid is absorbed. Then, the target area is exposed to blue light for about 17 minutes. Patients wear protective eye goggles while undergoing the light treatment.

The treated lesions heal in about one week, however, the therapy makes people temporarily more sensitive to sunlight and sunburn. As a result, patients must use sunscreen and sun-protective clothing for the 24 to 48 hours immediately after treatment.  And avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.

If you have a lesion of concern on your skin that you would like to have diagnosed please call the Swier Clinic to set up an appointment today, 302-645-7737.  Please note that our specialists at the Swier Clinic can only look at specific lesions on concern.  We are not a dermatologist and cannot preform full body checks for patients.

the Swier Clinic
1400 Savannah Road | Lewes, Delaware | 19958


*Information for this article was gathered from www.cancer.org and www.uihealthcare.com

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