Objective: To study the effectiveness of photodynamic therapy (PDT) as a therapeutic strategy in roentgenographically occult squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.
Material and methods: A carefully selected group of 21 patients (with 23 cancers) who had early stage squamous cell carcinoma of the lung and were eligible for surgical treatment were offered PDT as an alternative to resection. Patients underwent close follow-up with bronchoscopic surveillance and were offered resection if cancer persisted after no more than two sessions of PDT.
Results: A complete response was identified in 15 patients (16 cancers) after an initial PDT session. A complete response that lasted longer than 12 months was noted in 11 patients (52%). After PDT, the minimal follow-up period was 24 months. A subsequent primary lung cancer developed in 5 of the 21 patients (24%). Ten patients ultimately had surgical treatment, in 3 (30%) of whom N1 disease was identified at the time of resection. Two patients refused a surgical procedure and received alternative therapy. Therefore, nine patients (43%) were spared an operation (95% confidence interval, 21.8 to 66.6%). The mean duration of follow-up for these nine patients was 68 months (range, 24 to 116).
Conclusion: On the basis of this investigation, we can conclude with 95% confidence that at least 22% of patients with early stage squamous cell lung cancer who are candidates for PDT can be spared surgical resection.