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J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2004 May;130(5):279-84. Epub 2004 Mar 2.

Photodynamic therapy of virus-associated epithelial tumours of the face in organ transplant recipients.

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Clinic of Maxillofacial Surgery/Plastic Surgery, Friedrich Schiller University, Bachstrasse 18, Jena, Germany.



The benefit for organ recipients is still counteracted by the side effects of immunosuppression. Among other effects, there is a 50-250 times increased risk of developing malignant skin tumours. Because these malignomas are known to develop particularly aggressivly, there is a special need for an efficient therapy. Here we demonstrate the treatment response to aminolaevulinic acid (ALA)-based photodynamic therapy (PDT) in these patients.


Five organ recipients with multiple tumours of the face were multifocally treated with ALA-PDT (32 tumours in all). After topical application of ALA using a thermogel, irradiation was done with a 635 nm diode laser (Ceralas 635, Biolitec, Jena, Germany). After intervals of 2 weeks, 4 weeks, and 12 weeks, therapeutic efficacy was assessed.


There was complete remission in 24 tumours (75%). In six tumours (18.8%) a second or third PDT session was necessary for complete clinical remission. In two tumours (5.6%, invasive squamous cell carcinomas) the lesions were refractory to PDT.


ALA-PDT is a valuable therapeutic alternative for the treatment of multifocal skin tumours in organ-transplanted patients. Furthermore, we see a growing role of ALA-PDT also for patients with frequently relapsing tumours of the skin with known genetically determined tumourigenesis (Gorlin-Goltz syndrome).

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