Laser Therapy cancer treatment

laser therapy
Argon-ion laser

Laser therapy is just that—using a high-intensity laser either directly against a tumor, or as a means of relieving symptoms caused by a tumor.

What Laser Therapy is effective for and why

Laser therapy is most effective against cancers that are on or near to the surface skin of body, with skin cancers providing the most evident example. The laser is capable of both shrinking and even destroying tumors, although it is most effective when it is used in conjunction with more familiar treatments, whether they be radiotherapy, chemotherapy or surgery.

Laser therapy has been used against basal cell skin cancer along with early-stage cancers of the cervix, vagina, and vulva. It is also effective in relieving the symptoms caused by growing tumors, as laser therapy can shrink a tumor that is creating some blockage in the patient's body, for example in the colon.

Types Of Laser Therapy

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses a drug known as a photosensitizing agent that is injected into the patient; over the course of a few days the drug will be found largely in cancerous cells. Doctors then use a laser light to activate the drug, which in turn kills the cells.

Laser-induced interstitial thermotherapy (LITT) uses heat to treat cancer. Doctors use an optical fiber to access a tumor; at the tip of the fiber is a laser that is super-heated and kills cancer cells and shrinks tumors.

Benefits of laser therapy

Laser therapy offers cancer patients the following benefits:

  • Greater precision and reduced tissue damage compared to conventional surgery
  • Fewer after-effects, such as less pain, bleeding, scarring
  • Procedures are much shorter
  • Can often be performed in an outpatient setting
  • Reduced risk of post-surgery infections

Drawbacks to laser therapy

Laser therapy is not ideal, presenting patients with the following drawbacks:

  • Not every surgeon is qualified to perform laser surgery
  • It is expensive
  • The procedure sometimes must be repeated because effects tend not be permanent

Sources

  • Ko, Andrew H MD et al. 2008. Everyone's Guide to Cancer Therapy, Fifth Ed. Kansas City. Andres McMeel Publishing LLC.
  • National Cancer Institute. Lasers in Cancer Treatment.

 

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