Photodynamic therapy of malignant brain tumours

Can J Neurol Sci. 1990 May;17(2):193-8. doi: 10.1017/s0317167100030444.


Fifty patients with malignant supratentorial tumours were treated with intra-operative photodynamic therapy (PDT); in 33 cases the tumour was recurrent. In 45 patients the tumour was a cerebral glioma and in 5 cases a solitary cerebral metastasis. All patients received a porphyrin photosensitizer 18-24 hours pre-operatively. Photoillumination was carried out at 630 nm to a tumour cavity created by radical tumour resection and/or tumour cyst drainage. The light energy density ranged from 8 to 175 J/cm2. In 8 patients additional interstitial light was administered. The operative mortality was 4%. Follow up has ranged from 1 to 30 months. The median survival for the 45 primary malignant tumours was 8.6 months with a 1 and 2 year actuarial survival rate of 32% and 18%, respectively. In 12 patients a complete or near complete CT scan response was identified post PDT. These patients tended to have a tumour geometry (eg. cystic) that allowed complete or near complete light distribution to the tumour. The median survival for this group was 17.1 months with a 1 and 2 year actuarial survival of 62% and 38%, respectively. In the 33 cases who did not have a complete response the median survival was 6.5 months with a 1 and 2 year actuarial survival of 22% and 11%, respectively. Photodynamic therapy of malignant brain tumours can be carried out with acceptable risk. Good responses appear to be related to adequate light delivery to the tumour.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Female
  • Glioma / mortality
  • Glioma / surgery
  • Glioma / therapy*
  • Hematoporphyrins / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Intraoperative Period
  • Lasers*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phototherapy*


  • Hematoporphyrins