Daylight PDT cream for pre-skin cancer cases

Daylight PDT cream for pre-skin cancer cases

A cream containing aminolevulinic acid (ALA), that is activated by sunlight, is now being used in the UK to treat pre-cancerous skin cancer cells successfully.

Actinic Keratoses are rough patches of skin and sometimes brown growths that form in sun-exposed parts of the body. The face, nose, ears and hands are frequent locations about 25% of Northern Europeans over the age of 60 have at least one. They are the precursor to skin cancer and indicate underlying skin damage.

Worse, it seems they can spread and even present in other areas of the body.

And a recent report in JAMA Dermatology shows that with 45,000 people in the UK having these ‘patches’ and at least 5% likely to turn into squamous cell carcinoma skin cancer each year, the potential cancer case numbers are large – and increasing strongly, according to the report.

Rather than wait and develop skin cancer which can involve disfiguring treatments, there is now a topical cream. When applied, patients must go in the sun within 30 minutes as the sun activates the cream. Yes, it is PhotoDynamic Therapy, or PDT, where an agent is activated by an energy source to produce free-radicals that kill a cancer cell or its precursors. In fact, ALA also harnesses the body’s natural immune system to help kill the cells.

A 2017 European study involving 325 patients, showed 62% were clear of all lesions after three months of using the cream(1). The cream’s active ingredient is methyl aminolevulinate and the methyl aminolevulinate daylight photodynamic therapy is termed MAL DLPDT.

Patient satisfaction with the treatment was between 80 and 90%. Tubes of the cream cost 150 pounds, and you will probably need two tubes. Your NHS doctor can prescribe it. You just have to find the sunshine!


  1. Fargnoli MC, Ibbotson SH, Hunger RE, et al.
2019 Research
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