Biomaterial Essay

747 words - 3 pages

Lung Cancer Treatment -- Photodynamic Therapy Offers a Safe AlternativePhotodynamic therapy (PDT) is one of the newer lung cancer treatment options available today. Lung cancers are sometimes inoperable, particularly when they are situated in the bronchi or trachea. Similarly, cancers that have spread from different parts of the body to the bronchi cannot be removed surgically. In such cases, photodynamic therapy offers a safe as well as effective treatment option. In a best-case scenario, PDT is used as a curative therapy that can eliminate the cancer completely. In many patients, PDT is employed as a palliative lung cancer treatment meant to give relief from symptoms even though it does not cure the cancer. Photodynamic therapy can effectively relieve symptoms like breathing difficulties from obstructions in the bronchi or trachea. In some patients, tumors block the airways and can cause coughing, breathing difficulties, pneumonia and bleeding. PDT may be used in such cases depending on the location, size and stage of the tumor. PDT destroys cancer cells using a laser. To assure that only cancerous cells are destroyed, a special drug is used to make the cancer cells more sensitive to this treatment while leaving normal cells intact. There are three steps involved in the process of lung cancer treatment using PDT. In stage one, a drug called photofrin is injected intravenously. This drug has the property of making body cells very sensitive to light. Normal, fit cells eliminate photofrin, but cancerous cells are unable to do so and the drug is retained in such cells. In the second stage of PDT, about forty to fifty hours after the injection is given, a flexible tube is inserted into the bronchia. This tube contains a red laser of low intensity. The cancer cells exposed to this laser are destroyed. In the third and final stage, about two days after the laser light exposure, a bronchoscopy is done to get rid of the dead cancer cells and mucus from the bronchi or trachea. A patient can benefit from photodynamic therapy only if his or her cancer is situated in a location that is accessible to a bronchoscope. Also, the tumor must be large enough so that the bronchoscope can easily detect it. This means that some cancers like those located outside the bronchial passages cannot be treated with PDT. Lung cancer...

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