Comparison of red and green light in the treatment of Bowen's disease by photodynamic therapy

Br J Dermatol. 2000 Oct;143(4):767-72. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2133.2000.03773.x.


Background: A variety of protocols exist for the treatment of Bowen's disease by photodynamic therapy (PDT) using topical 5-aminolaevulinic acid (5-ALA).

Objective: To determine the optimal wavelength (red or green light) for this treatment.

Methods: A randomized comparison study of ALA-PDT using red (630 +/- 15 nm) or green (540 +/- 15 nm) light in the treatment of Bowen's disease.

Results: The initial clearance rate for lesions treated by red light was 94% (30 of 32) in comparison with 72% (21 of 29) for those lesions receiving green light (P = 0.002). Over the following 12 months, there were two recurrences in the red light group and seven in the green light group reducing the clearance rates to 88% and 48%, respectively. The frequency and severity of pain experienced were similar between the two treatment groups. No hyperthermia, nor significant difference in lesional temperatures, was observed between the wavelengths studied.

Conclusion: Green light is less effective than red light, at a theoretically equivalent dose, in the treatment of Bowen's disease by topical ALA-PDT.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Bowen's Disease / drug therapy*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Photochemotherapy / methods*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / therapeutic use
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy*


  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • Aminolevulinic Acid