Objectives: To determine whether whole bladder photodynamic therapy after intravesical administration of 5-aminolevulinic acid using a white light source would destroy urothelial carcinoma. We sought to define the optimal target group of patients for this therapy. The side effects of treatment were also assessed.
Methods: We performed whole bladder photodynamic therapy with 100 J/cm(2) white light 2 to 4.5 hours after intravesical administration of 17% 5-aminolevulinic acid in 12 patients with recurring, multifocal, Stage pTa, grade I to III, urothelial tumors of the bladder and carcinoma in situ.
Results: Immediately after whole bladder irradiation, histologic examination of biopsies taken from flat suspicious lesions showed no viable cells; remnants of malignant cells were found in papillary tumors. Of the 12 patients, 11 returned for follow-up examination. At a median follow-up of 18 months (range 3 to 25), 3 of the 7 patients with carcinoma in situ and 2 of the 4 patients with papillary tumors were free of disease. In all patients, urinary frequency and urgency subsided within 3 weeks. No decreased bladder capacity or systemic side effects were observed.
Conclusions: Our preliminary data show that whole bladder photodynamic therapy with intravesically applied 5-aminolevulinic acid using a white light source is effective in destroying flat malignant lesions of the bladder such as carcinoma in situ. The procedure is easy to perform and is not associated with any major side effects. The findings warrant long-term and multicenter studies.