5-Aminolevulinic acid photodynamic therapy for early-stage lip squamous cell carcinoma

Photodiagnosis Photodyn Ther. 2021 Sep:35:102321. doi: 10.1016/j.pdpdt.2021.102321. Epub 2021 May 17.


Background: Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the lip removed by surgery may cause lip dysfunction and scar. ALA-PDT (5-Aminolevulinic acid photodynamic therapy) is a minimally invasive treatment for superficial SCC in situ. However, few studies reported the use of topical ALA-PDT to manage lip SCC.

Methods: Between 2015 and 2017, 6 patients with Tis to T2 lip squamous cell carcinoma without evidence of lymph node spread, were treated with topical ALA-PDT at Shanghai Skin Disease Hospital. Clinical responses and side effect were evaluated according to the Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST) at 1 month, 6 months, 12 months and 24 months after ALA-PDT.

Results: All of the 6 patients achieved complete response (CR) by 2-7 sessions of ALA-PDT. There was no relapse during 24 months follow up for 4 patients. Two out of 6 patients relapsed at 10 months and 20 months post PDT but achieved CR again by 1-3 more sessions of PDT. There was no functional or aesthetic problem.

Conclusion: Topical 5-Aminolevulinic acid photodynamic could be considered a potential alternative therapeutic option for early-stage lip squamous cell carcinoma without lymph node spread.

Keywords: 5-aminolevulinic acid photodynamic therapy; Lip; Squamous cell carcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Aminolevulinic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell* / drug therapy
  • China
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Lip
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / drug therapy
  • Photochemotherapy* / methods
  • Photosensitizing Agents / therapeutic use
  • Skin Neoplasms* / drug therapy


  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • Aminolevulinic Acid