Blue Light Therapy for Skin Cancer

Blue Light Therapy For Skin Cancer: Could It Really Work?

Blue light therapy – also known as  photodynamic therapy – is FDA-approved for treating actinic keratosis, a pre-cancer caused by sun exposure. While actinic keratosis is most commonly associated with blue light therapy, it is sometimes used to treat skin cancer itself.  

Blue light therapy is a popular treatment option for those who want to avoid more traditional, invasive procedures that may have debilitating and sometimes long-term side effects.  Blue light therapy works by combining a light-sensitizing chemical solution with blue light to generate reactive oxygen radicals that destroy cancerous cells. 

Below, we will take a deeper look at the science behind blue light therapy and the pros and cons of the procedure to help you decide if you’re a good candidate. 

The Science Behind Blue Light Therapy 

Before undergoing blue light therapy, your practitioner applies a photosensitizing liquid to your skin, and then you wait until the liquid is absorbed. This typically takes about an hour, but – depending on the type of medicine – may take up to two days. 

Once your body has fully absorbed the medication, the target area is exposed to blue light for roughly 20 minutes. For most cancers typically treated with blue light therapy, the light is applied topically, and you remain conscious for the procedure. However, for abnormal cells inside the body, light is administered via an endoscope. You may be sedated during the procedure. Your practitioner may also give you medication to help you relax. 

Blue light therapy works because the photosensitizing liquid reacts to the specific wavelength of blue light used. This causes an active reaction that damages nearby cells, strategically removing cancerous cells without harming the surrounding tissues. 

Blue light therapy is commonly used to treat skin cancer or the aforementioned precancerous condition. However, it can also be used to treat oesophageal, mouth, and lung cancer if caught in the early stages. 

Am I A Good Candidate For Blue Light Therapy?

The best way to see if you are a good candidate for blue light therapy is to talk to an experienced practitioner. They will go over your medical history and current health in detail to see if the procedure will benefit you. 

Those at the highest risk for skin cancer may benefit most from preventative blue light therapy. You may be at high risk of skin cancer if you: 

  • Spend a lot of time outdoors
  • Have fair skin 
  • Have blonde or red hair
  • Have blue, green, or gray eyes. 

While blue light therapy can sometimes treat other cancers, this is usually only in the very early stages. Sometimes, blue light therapy can relieve cancer symptoms and side effects of cancer treatments. 

The Pros And Cons Of Blue Light Therapy 

The main benefit of blue light therapy is that the side effects and complications are minimal compared to more conventional cancer treatments. Blue light therapy is non-invasive and requires minimal downtime. Some patients may experience redness or a tingling sensation following treatment, but this should pass on its own within a few days. 

Blue light therapy has no long-term side effects when used properly, although some patients do become light-sensitive for an extended period after blue light therapy. However, compared to chemotherapy treatments, which can have debilitating long-term effects, blue light therapy is often the better option if your doctor believes it can successfully treat your cancer. That being said, blue therapy unfortunately cannot treat every type of cancer. 

Blue light therapy can only treat areas where light can reach, so it typically cannot treat large cancers or cancers that have already spread throughout the body. However, as we touched on earlier, blue light therapy may help alleviate issues associated with cancer and more conventional cancer treatments such as fatigue, nausea, and chronic pain. 

The Bottom Line 

Blue light therapy can successfully treat pre-cancerous conditions and many types of skin cancer. Blue light therapy may also help combat oesophageal, mouth, and lung cancer, although typically only when detected in the very early stages. 

Blue light therapy causes substantially fewer side effects and complications than other cancer treatments but is not right for every patient. The best way to determine if blue light therapy is right for you is to book a consultation with an experienced professional to go over your current health and individual needs. 

Ready to get started? At CORR, our practitioners have experience with a range of innovative medical treatments, including blue light therapy. Reach out here to learn more.