Photodynamic therapy offers the possibility of relatively selective tumour
necrosis and normal tissue healing. It has many potential applications but
as yet no clear role. Articles, editorials and case reports published prima
rily in English and listed in Medline/ISI up to April 2000 or idenfied by a
manual search have been reviewed in an attempt to provide a comprehensive
overview of the use of photodynamic therapy in the alimentary tract.
It is concluded that photodynamic therapy can be an effective treatment for
superficial pre-malignant mucosal lesions and early cancers, especially in
diffuse disease. Suitable patients include those wishing to avoid surgery,
high risk subjects or those in whom other forms of treatment have failed.
Superiority over other methods of ablation has not so far been demonstrated
. Cheaper and more effective photosensitizers and improved techniques of li
ght delivery are likely to increase the application of photodynamic therapy