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J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002 Aug;47(2):258-62.

Photodynamic therapy using topical methyl 5-aminolevulinate compared with cryotherapy for actinic keratosis: A prospective, randomized study.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Regensburg, Germany.



Actinic keratoses (AKs) are the most common premalignant tumors. Without treatment, a significant number of patients with AK will experience squamous cell carcinoma. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) using the new highly selective photosensitizer methyl 5-aminolevulinate is a promising new treatment modality for AK.


We investigated the complete response rates, cosmetic outcome, and patient satisfaction after photodynamic therapy (PDT) using methyl 5-aminolevulinate (Metvix) versus cryotherapy in the treatment of AKs.


Patients were randomized to receive either cryotherapy with liquid nitrogen spray or PDT using methyl 5-aminolevulinate cream 160 mg/g, 3 hours application time, and red light (75 J/cm(2)).


Efficacy results from 193 patients with 699 lesions (92% face/scalp and 93% thin/moderately thick) were analyzed. Overall complete response rates after 3 months were 69% for PDT and 75% for cryotherapy. Both treatments gave higher response rates in thin lesions (PDT 75%, cryotherapy 80%). PDT gave better cosmetic results and higher patient satisfaction than cryotherapy.


PDT using methyl 5-aminolevulinate is an attractive treatment option for patients with AK, with a response rate similar to that of cryotherapy, but with superior cosmetic results and high patient satisfaction.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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