Approaches to improve photodynamic therapy of cancer

Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2011 Jan 1;16:208-24. doi: 10.2741/3684.


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a clinically approved method of tumor treatment. Its unique mechanism of action results from minimal invasiveness and high selectivity towards transformed cells. However, visible light used to excite most photosensitizers has rather limited ability to penetrate tissues resulting in insufficient destruction of deeply seated malignant cells. Therefore, novel strategies for further potentiation of the anticancer effectiveness of PDT have been developed. These include combined treatments with surgery, chemo- and radiotherapy, strategies targeting cytoprotective mechanisms induced in PDT-treated cells, as well as attempts aimed at enhancement of PDT-mediated antitumor immune response. Moreover, new photosensitizers and novel light sources are being developed. Impressive progress in nanotechnology and understanding of tumor cell biology rise hopes for further improvements in this elegant and promising method of cancer treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / drug effects
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Nanotechnology
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Photochemotherapy / methods*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / metabolism
  • Photosensitizing Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Photosensitizing Agents / therapeutic use
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • Reactive Oxygen Species