Hyperbaric oxygen and photodynamic therapy in the treatment of advanced carcinoma of the cardia and the esophagus

Lasers Surg Med. 2000;26(3):308-15. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-9101(2000)26:3<308::aid-lsm9>3.0.co;2-b.


Background and objective: The photochemical reaction of photodynamic therapy (PDT) depends on the presence of molecular oxygen. Because of anoxic regions in tumor tissue and vascular shutdown during PDT, the efficiency is limited. Therefore, the use of hyperbaric oxygen, which increases the oxygen in tumor tissue, as well as the amount of singlet oxygen, may enhance the efficiency of PDT.

Study design/materials and methods: After diagnostic work-up, photosensitization was carried out with a hematoporphyrin-derivate 2 mg/kg body weight 48 hours before PDT. The light dose was calculated as 300 J/cm of fiber tip. Twenty-three patients were treated by PDT alone and 29 patients received PDT under hyperbaric oxygen at a level of two absolute atmospheric pressures.

Results: Improvement regarding dysphagia and stenosis-diameter could be obtained in both treatment arms with no significant difference (P = 0.43 and P = 0. 065, respectively). The tumor length also decreased in both groups and showed a significant difference in favour of the PDT/HBO group (P = 0.002). The mean overall survival was 11.3 months. The mean survival time for the PDT group was 8.7 months and for the PDT/HBO group 13.8 months (P = 0.021).

Conclusion: According to this pilot study, combined PDT/HBO represents a new approach in the treatment of esophageal and cardia cancer, which appears to have enhanced the efficiency of PDT.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma / therapy*
  • Cardia
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hematoporphyrin Photoradiation / methods*
  • Hematoporphyrins
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation / methods*
  • Male
  • Photosensitizing Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stomach Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Stomach Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Survival Analysis


  • Hematoporphyrins
  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • photosan III