Photodynamic therapy with intravesical instillation of 5-aminolevulinic acid for patients with recurrent superficial bladder cancer: a single-center study

Urology. 2003 Feb;61(2):338-41. doi: 10.1016/s0090-4295(02)02123-4.


Objectives: Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is an effective treatment option for patients with superficial bladder cancer uncontrolled by transurethral resection and/or intravesical bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunotherapy alone. We determined the efficacy and side effects of PDT in patients with recurrent superficial bladder cancer.

Methods: Between April 1994 and July 2001, PDT was performed in 31 patients (23 men and 8 women). 5-Aminolevulinic acid (50 mL) in a 3% concentration was instilled intravesically. Patients were instructed to hold the solution as long as possible and were irradiated transurethrally with a mean light dose of 3.9 W using laser light emitting a wavelength of 633 nm for a mean time of 1260 seconds.

Results: The mean patient age at the procedure was 70.2 years. At an average follow-up of 23.7 months (range 1 to 73), 16 patients were free of tumor recurrence; 15 patients had developed tumor recurrence after a mean of 8.3 months. Of 10 patients with prior BCG treatment, 4 were free of tumor recurrence. Treatment was well tolerated, with the only side effect being dysuria due to urinary tract infection in 4 patients and hematuria in 7 patients. No phototoxic skin reactions were observed.

Conclusions: PDT represents a safe, effective, and less-invasive treatment for patients with recurrent superficial bladder cancer. Because of the favorable side-effect profile, PDT can also be applied to patients with comorbidity precluding surgical treatment. Furthermore, PDT represents a second-line treatment for patients with tumor recurrence after BCG failure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravesical
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy
  • Lasers
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycobacterium bovis / immunology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / drug therapy
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy
  • Photochemotherapy / methods*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / administration & dosage
  • Photosensitizing Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Failure
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / therapy


  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • Aminolevulinic Acid