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Aminolevulinic Acid (On the skin)

Treats wart-like lesions (actinic keratoses).

What works?

Learn more about the effects of these drugs. The most reliable research is summed up for you in our featured article.

Aminolevulinic acid application followed by exposure to a certain type of light (blue light using the BLU–U Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy Illuminator) treats the skin condition called actinic keratoses. This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription… Read more
Brand names include
Levulan Kerastick
Drug classes About this
Photosensitizing Agent

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

5-aminolevulinic acid-based photodynamic therapy for the treatment of condylomata acuminata in Chinese patients: a meta-analysis

OBJECTIVE: This meta-analysis was designed to assess the efficacy of topical 5-aminolaevulinic acid (ALA) photodynamic therapy (PDT) in Chinese patients with condylomata acuminata (CA).

Intraoperative fluorescence-guided resection of high-grade malignant gliomas using 5-aminolevulinic acid-induced porphyrins: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies

BACKGROUND: We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to address the (added) value of intraoperative 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA)-guided resection of high-grade malignant gliomas compared with conventional neuronavigation-guided resection, with respect to diagnostic accuracy, extent of tumor resection, safety, and survival.

Evidence-based review of lasers, light sources and photodynamic therapy in the treatment of acne vulgaris

This review investigated the efficacy and safety of optical treatments for acne vulgaris. The authors concluded that the treatments had short-term efficacy. Photodynamic therapy had the most consistent outcomes. Poor reporting of the review process and limitations in the included studies precluded a thorough evaluation of the reliability of the authors' conclusions.

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Summaries for consumers

Interventions for actinic keratoses

Actinic keratoses are a skin disease caused by long‐term sun exposure. Damaged skin shows small, red, rough, scaly, flat spots called actinic keratoses or lesions, which feel like patches of dry skin. Symptoms such as bleeding and pain can be associated with actinic keratoses. Moreover, actinic keratoses have the potential to develop into skin cancer if left untreated. The reasons for treatment may include cosmetic appearance, relief of symptoms, or prevention of skin cancer. Treatment can be directed either at individual lesions or to larger areas of the skin where several visible and less visible lesions occur (field‐directed treatment).

Treatment of Barrett's oesophagus

One of the two main types of oesophageal (gullet) cancer, oesophageal adenocarcinoma, is rapidly increasing in incidence in the western world. The prognosis for patients treated for oesophageal adenocarcinoma is appalling with fewer than 15% of individuals surviving beyond five years. Barrett’s oesophagus has been identified as the pre‐cancerous stage of adenocarcinoma. It is recognised that Barrett's oesophagus develops as a complication of acid and bile reflux which commonly, but not inevitably, leads to heartburn symptoms. In response to these injurious agents, the normal squamous lining of the oesophagus is replaced by a columnar lining resembling the lining of the intestine. This intestinal subtype has the highest risk of malignancy and the term Barrett's oesophagus is used only for this subtype in many areas of the world, and in most research publications. Barrett's oesophagus can gradually progress to adenocarcinoma through a series of stages called dysplasia which can be identified in biopsies examined under the microscope.

Treatments for cutaneous Bowen's disease

Bowen's disease is the clinical term for a particular precancerous skin lesion. These lesions rarely cause patients any symptoms, but appear as well‐defined scaly patches on sun‐exposed skin, commonly in those over 60 years. They occur more in women and most frequently involve the lower legs of those affected in the UK. It is not known why, but the body sites most commonly affected vary across different countries. In general, people with Bowen's disease have an excellent prognosis because the disease is typically slow to develop and responds favourably to treatment. Lesions are usually slow‐growing, and although they are not life‐threatening, there is a small risk of progression to a skin cancer (estimated to be 3%) known as invasive squamous cell carcinoma.

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