Fractional Carbon Dioxide Laser Improves Nodular Basal Cell Carcinoma Treatment with Photodynamic Therapy with Methyl 5-Aminolevulinate

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BackgroundThe major limitation of photodynamic therapy with 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA-PDT) is proper photosensitizer penetration. The nodular form of BCC (nBCC) is perceived as a contraindication to ALA-PDT because the tumor layer is thicker than 2 mm. We have improved on the results of previous studies that used an ablative laser to limit tumor thickness. A fractional laser produces skin microtubules that can improve the penetration of ALA into tumors.ObjectiveTo evaluate the use of a fractional laser as pretreatment before ALA-PDT for nBCC treatment in an 18-month single-blind clinical trial.MethodsFifty-six verified nBCCs were ablated using a diode laser under ultrasound control. Half of the tumors were treated 3 weeks later using a fractional carbon dioxide laser, and the other half were treated using curettage (control). We then immediately treated with ALA-PDT. Fluorescence and photography were evaluated and compared each month, and a final histopathologic examination was performed.ResultsFifty-two of 56 nBCCs in the fractional laser treatment group responded to ALA-PDT, compared with only 45 of 56 in the control group. Fluorescence was higher in 53 cases in the treatment group; 3 cases demonstrated the same fluorescence level in both groups. Healing took longer in the treatment group, and there were more side effects.ConclusionFractional laser pretreatment increases the fluorescence and clinical effectiveness of ALA-PDT for the treatment of nBCC.

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