Photodynamic Therapy and Its Role in Combined Modality Anticancer Treatment

Technol Cancer Res Treat. 2015 Aug;14(4):355-68. doi: 10.1177/1533034614556192. Epub 2014 Nov 5.


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a relatively new modality for anticancer treatment and although the interest has increased greatly in the recent years, it is still far from clinical routine. As PDT consists of administering a nontoxic photosensitizing chemical and subsequently illuminating the tumor with visible light, the treatment is not subject to dose-limiting toxicity, which is the case for established anticancer treatments like radiation therapy or chemotherapy. This makes PDT an attractive adjuvant therapy in a combined modality treatment regimen, as PDT provides an antitumor immune response through its ability to elicit the release of damage-associated molecular patterns and tumor antigens, thus providing an increased antitumor efficacy, potentially without increasing the risk of treatment-related toxicity. There is great interest in the elicited immune response after PDT and the potential of combining PDT with other forms of treatment to provide potent antitumor vaccines. This review summarizes recent studies investigating PDT as part of combined modality treatment, hopefully providing an accessible overview of the current knowledge that may act as a basis for new ideas or systematic evaluations of already promising results.

Keywords: cancer; combined-modality treatment; immunogenicity; photodynamic therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Death / immunology
  • Combined Modality Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / metabolism
  • Immunologic Factors / pharmacology
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Immunomodulation / drug effects
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Photochemotherapy* / methods


  • Immunologic Factors