Topical photodynamic therapy of actinic keratosis in renal transplant recipients

Transplant Proc. Jul-Aug 2007;39(6):1847-50. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2007.05.040.


Organ transplant recipients (OTRs) show an increased risk of precancerous (mostly actinic keratosis [AK]) and cancerous (mostly squamous cell carcinomas [SCC] and basal cell carcinomas [BCC]) cutaneous lesions. Their frequency increases with time after transplantation. AKs seem to progress more often and faster to invasive SCC in OTRs compared with the general population. The steady increase of risk of cutaneous premalignancies and malignancies with time after transplantation is an alarming figure because the number of organ allograft recipients who live for many years after transplantion is rapidly growing. This points out the need to devote more resources to skin cancer prevention, detection, and management. Various therapies, including cryotherapy, topical 5-fluorouracil, imiquimod, topical diclofenac, curettage, electrosurgery, carbon dioxide laser, and surgical excision, are available for AKs. However, most of these are limited by frequent relapses and the presence of multiple lesions over a wide area. Topical photodynamic therapy (PDT) represents an innovative therapeutic approach for nonsurgical treatment of cutaneous precancerous lesions and skin cancers. In this study we confirmed the usefulness of PDT in the treatment of AKs in OTRs, even in lesions relapsing or unresponsive to conventional treatment. We showed a complete response rate of 71%, after 2 treatments sessions that were 2 weeks apart. The response rate of scalp/facial lesions (72%) was higher compared with acral lesions (40%). Topical PDT could represent a useful therapeutic alternative for AKs in OTRs because large lesions can be treated with excellent cosmetic outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Aged
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Keratosis / drug therapy*
  • Kidney Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Photochemotherapy*
  • Photosensitivity Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Photosensitivity Disorders / pathology
  • Photosensitizing Agents / administration & dosage
  • Photosensitizing Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Postoperative Complications / drug therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • delta-aminolevulinic acid methyl ester
  • Aminolevulinic Acid