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Laser Therapy For Cancer Treatment

Laser therapy for cancer treatment:

The term LASER stands for "Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation." Laser light is concentrated so that it makes a very powerful and precise tool. Laser therapy uses light to treat cancer cells. Consider the following additional information regarding laser therapy:

How are lasers used during cancer surgery?

Laser surgery is a type of surgery that uses special light beams instead of instruments, such as scapels, to perform surgical procedures. There are several different types of lasers, each with characteristics that perform specific functions during surgery. Laser light can be delivered either continuously or intermittently and can be used with fiber optics to treat areas of the body that are often difficult to access. The following are some of the different types of laser used for cancer treatment:

What is photodynamic therapy?

Because cancer cells can be selectively destroyed while most healthy cells are spared, photodynamic therapy (PDT) is useful for the treatment of certain cancer tumors. Photodynamic therapy uses chemicals in the cancer cells that react to the argon light. These chemicals, called photosensitizing agents, are not naturally found in the cancer cells. In PDT, the chemicals are given to the cancer patient by injection. Cells throughout the body absorb the chemicals. The chemicals collect and stay longer in the cancer cells than in the healthy cells. At the right time, when the healthy cells surrounding the tumor may already be relatively free of the chemicals, the red light of an argon laser can be focused directly on the tumor. It hits the tumor and, as the cells absorb the light, a chemical reaction destroys the cancer cells.

Argon lasers can pass through about an inch of tissue without damaging it, so PDT can be used for the treatment of cancers that are close to the surface of the skin. It can also be directed at cancers that are located in the lining of the internal organs, such as:

What cancers may be treated with laser therapy?

Lasers are used in surgery for the following types of cancer because they often have a special requirement that only lasers can meet - such as the ability to reach a hard to treat location, apply heat, or cut only a very small area:

Laser surgery is also used for palliative surgery in cancer patients. The purpose of palliative surgery is to help the patient feel better or function better even though it may not treat the cancer. An example of this type of surgery may involve surgery to remove a growth that is making it difficult for a patient to eat comfortably.

What are the side effects of photodynamic therapy?

The side effects of photodynamic therapy are relatively mild and may include a small amount of damage to healthy tissue. Also, a patient's skin and eyes are sensitive to light for as long as six weeks or more after treatment is completed. Depending on the area that is treated, patients may experience other temporary side effects. As each person's individual medical profile and diagnosis is different, so is his/her reaction to treatment. Side effects may be severe, mild, or absent. Be sure to discuss with your cancer care team any/all possible side effects of treatment before the treatment begins.

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