What to Expect After PDT (Photodynamic Therapy) for Lung Cancer

As soon as you are injected with Photofrin, you are at high risk for dangerous sunburn caused by photosensitivity, so you need to protect your skin and eyes immediately after you are injected with it and for at least a month to 6 weeks afterward. Here's how you do that:

  • On the day of your injection, close your shades and curtains at home before you leave.

  • Bring a hat, dark sunglasses, light colored long-sleeved shirt made out of tightly woven fabric, light colored long pants made of tightly woven fabric, socks, and gloves with you to the hospital and wear them after your treatment.

  • Wear the protective clothing listed above every day--even on cloudy days. You absolutely should not expose your skin to sunlight for the month after treatment.

  • Avoid going outside at peak sunlight hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and limit your skin exposure at other times, even on cloudy days.

  • Sunscreen is not effective in protecting your skin against a photosensitivity reaction.

After 30 days are up, ask your doctor if you may expose a small amount of skin on your hand to sunlight for 10 minutes. If you have swelling, redness, or blistering, within the next 24 hours, you should continue to protect your skin and eyes from light for another two weeks. If you don't have any reaction, you may gradually increase your exposure to sunlight.

You may need to have a "cleanup" bronchoscopy several days after PDT to remove cellular debris and mucus that is too thick for you to cough up. If your doctor sees any part of the tumor still there, he or she may repeat the PDT procedure.

Because the activating light is focused on the tumor, the damage to your surrounding healthy tissue is minimal. Still, you may have burns, swelling, pain, or scarring in nearby healthy tissues, near your windpipe. You may also have these temporary side effects after PDT:

  • Coughing

  • Trouble swallowing

  • Stomach pain

  • Painful breathing

  • Shortness of breath

Talk with your doctor or nurse about how to ease these side effects and which of these effects your doctor wants you to call about.

For More Information

For more information on how to quit smoking or schedule lung cancer screenings, contact Nancy Sayegh-Rooney, R.N., Pulmonary Nurse Navigator at Richmond University Medical Center, 718-818-2391.

Free screenings are available for at-risk individuals, please call for additional information.

© 2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.