UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Prospects in the Application of Photodynamic Therapy in Oral Cancer and Premalignant Lesions Saini, Rajan; Lee, Nathan V.; Liu, Kelly Y. P.; Poh, Catherine F.


Oral cancer is a global health burden with significantly poor survival, especially when the diagnosis is at its late stage. Despite advances in current treatment modalities, there has been minimal improvement in survival rates over the last five decades. The development of local recurrence, regional failure, and the formation of second primary tumors accounts for this poor outcome. For survivors, cosmetic and functional compromises resulting from treatment are often devastating. These statistics underscore the need for novel approaches in the management of this deadly disease. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment modality that involves administration of a light-sensitive drug, known as a photosensitizer, followed by light irradiation of an appropriate wavelength that corresponds to an absorbance band of the sensitizer. In the presence of tissue oxygen, cytotoxic free radicals that are produced cause direct tumor cell death, damage to the microvasculature, and induction of inflammatory reactions at the target sites. PDT offers a prospective new approach in controlling this disease at its various stages either as a stand-alone therapy for early lesions or as an adjuvant therapy for advanced cases. In this review, we aim to explore the applications of PDT in oral cancer therapy and to present an overview of the recent advances in PDT that can potentially reposition its utility for oral cancer treatment.

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