Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy for the Treatment of AKs
Up to 58 million Americans have actinic keratosis (AK). An AK is a pre-cancer that has the potential to progress to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the second most common skin cancer. While most AKs remain benign, approximately 2-10 percent develop into squamous cell carcinoma within an average of two years. Since there is no way to know ahead of time which ones will become cancerous, it is very important to seek a dermatologist’s care. Frequent skin examinations are the key to early detection and prevention.
What are Actinic Keratoses (AKs)?
AKs are rough-textured, dry, scaly patches on the skin caused by excessive exposure to UV light such as sunlight. They occur most often on sun exposed areas such as the face, scalp or ears, and can range in color from skin toned to reddish brown. They can be as small as a pinhead or larger than a quarter. Actinic Keratoses generally begin as rough spots of skin that may be easier felt than seen. Common complaints include a lesion that has increased in size or one that is raised, bleeding, poor in healing, discolored, or associated with discomfort such as pain or itching. While a lesion may initially appear skin colored to pink, red, or brown, lesions on darker skin may be more pigmented. AKs may feel soft, rough, or “gritty,” but in any case, they feel different from the surrounding healthy skin. Since there are many clinical variants of AKs, it is best to consult a dermatologist if you suspect a lesion.
Who gets AKs?
AKs are seen primarily in Caucasians with pale skin living in sunny climates. Areas of the skin with the most sun exposure, such as the head, neck, forearms, and hands account for more than 80 percent of AKs.
Actinic Keratoses develop as the result of years of sun exposure. Because the effect of sun exposure is cumulative, it is your lifetime exposure that increases your risk. Even if you didn’t suntan much, years of just doing simple tasks outside can add up to significant amount of sun exposures. For example:
Going out to the mailbox
Playing an outdoor sport
Walking the dog
Because AKs take a long time to develop, they generally appear after the age of 40. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that 60 percent of persons apt to get Actinic Keratoses will indeed get at least one AK in their lifetime. Your risk of developing AKs increases if you have one or more of the risk factors listed below.
What are some of the risk factors for AKs?
A history of cumulative sun exposure
Blond or red hair, in particular if combined with blue, hazel or green eyes
A tendency to freckle or burn after sun exposure
A weakened immune system
Blue Light Treatment Informational Video
Patient Education Video of Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy Treatment
Before and After BLU-U Photodynamic Therapy
8 WEEKS AFTER BLUE LIGHT
12 WEEKS AFTER BLUE LIGHT
What is Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy?
There are several ways to get rid of the pre-cancerous AKs, and Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy is one way to get rid of a large field of lesions. A special medication called LEVULAN KERASTICK is placed on the affected area and is incubated on your skin for 1-2 hours in which the pre-cancer cells soaks in the medication. Afterwards, a blue light is placed over the area for 16 minutes which kills and eliminates the AKs. Blue Light is indicated for the treatment of minimally to moderately thick actinic keratosis of the face or scalp, and can also be used on the arms and legs. It is important to treat AKs because there is no way to tell when or which lesions will progress to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the second most common form of skin cancer. So, now's the time to manage your damage!
How does Blue Light Work?
LEVULAN KERASTICK and Blue Light, a 2-part treatment, is unique because it uses a light activated drug therapy to destroy AKs. How does it work? LEVULAN KERASTICK Topical Solution is applied to the AK. The solution is then absorbed by the AK cells where it is converted to a chemical that makes the cells extremely sensitive to light. When the AK cells are exposed to the BLU-U Blue Light Illuminator, a reaction occurs which destroys the AK cells.
The 2-part treatment offers the following conveniences:
No prescription to fill
No daily medication to remember
Treatment is administered by a qualified healthcare professional staff
LEVULAN KERASTICK and Blue Light can also fit your lifestyle:
The 2-part, 2 office visit treatment is completed in less than 24 hours
High ratings for cosmetic response
No scarring reported to date
*Patients treated with LEVULAN KERASTICK and Blue Light should avoid exposure of the photosensitized lesions to sunlight or prolonged or intense light for at least 40 hours. Ask your dermatologist if LEVULAN KERASTICK and BLU-U PDT is right for you!
What to expect before, during and after treatment
Before Treatment Starts
Be sure to tell your physician if you are taking any oral medications or using any topical prescription or non-prescription products on your face or scalp.
Bring adequate sun-protective items with you to your appointments such as a wide-brimmed hat or umbrella if you are treating your face, or a thick, long sleeve shirt and gloves if you are treating your arms and hands.
Treatment Step 1: Application of LEVULAN KERASTICK Topical Solution
LEVULAN KERASTICK will be uniformly applied to your AK lesions.
Your physician will direct you to wait the recommended time in order to allow the solution to penetrate the targeted cells. Typically, the face will take 1 hour to incubate, the scalp takes 1.5 hours, and the arms and legs take 2 hours or more. Your doctor with determine the treatment time based on your skin condition. After the incubation period, you will come in for the second part of your treatment which includes illuminating your treated lesions with the blue light.
You should not wash your face or arms and hands in between treatment steps.
Avoid exposing the treated lesions to sunlight and other forms of bright light for at least 40 hours. Examples include exam room examination lights, operating room lamps, tanning bed lights, and household lights at close range. Sunscreens will not protect against photosensitivity reactions caused by visible light during this time. Remember to wear light protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat, during this time.
Treatment Step 2: Blue Light Treatment
Before your Blue Light treatment, gently rinse and pat dry the treated area.
Your treatment with the BLU-U will take approximately 17 minutes.
Protective eyewear should be worn during your Blue Light treatment.
You may experience stinging or burning during your BLU-U treatment, but this should subside between 1 minute and 24 hours after the Blue Light is turned off.
You may apply moisturizers as needed.
The most common side effects are:
Burning/stinging, which could be severe, may last up to 24 hours after your BLU-U treatment
Redness and swelling which may last up to 4 weeks after your BLU-U treatment
Scaling/crusting which may last up to 4 weeks after your BLU-U treatment
General precaution for sun exposure
On a daily basis, always remember to use sunscreen and wear sun protective clothing to shield your skin from the sun's damaging rays.
Important Risk Information
What is LEVULAN KERASTICK used for? The LEVULAN KERASTICK for Topical Solution plus blue light illumination using the BLU-U Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy Illuminator is indicated for the treatment of minimally to moderately thick actinic keratoses of the face or scalp.
Who should NOT take LEVULAN KERASTICK? LEVULAN KERASTICK should not be taken by patients who have cutaneous photosensitivity at wavelengths at 400-450 nm, porphyria, or known allergies to porphyrins, and in patients with known sensitivity to any of the components of the LEVULAN KERASTICK for Topical Solution.
LEVULAN KERASTICK has not been tested on patients with inherited or acquired coagulation defects. There have been no formal studies of the interaction of LEVULAN KERASTICK for Topical Solution with any other drugs and no drug-specific interactions were noted during any of the controlled clinical trials. It is possible that concomitant use of other known photosensitizing agents might increase the photosensitivity reaction of actinic keratoses treated with the LEVULAN KERASTICK. It is important to tell your physician if you are taking any oral medications or using any topical prescription or non-prescription products on your face or scalp. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing.
What are the possible side effects? The most common side effects include scaling/crusting, hypo/hyper-pigmentation, itching, stinging, and/or burning, erythema and edema. Severe stinging and/or burning at one or more lesions being treated was reported by at least 50% of patients at some time during the treatment.
What precautions should be taken? Patients should avoid exposure of the photosensitive treatment sites to sunlight or bright indoor light for at least 40 hours after application of LEVULAN KERASTICK. Exposure may result in a stinging and/or burning sensation and may cause erythema or edema of the lesions. Sunscreens will not protect against photosensitivity reactions caused by visible light.