Photodynamic therapy for pancreatic and biliary tract carcinoma

  • Lakshmana Ayaru
  • Stephen G. Bown
  • Stephen P. Pereira
Review Article


The prognosis of patients with pancreatic and biliary tract cancer treated with conventional therapies such as stent insertion or chemotherapy is often poor, and new approaches are urgently needed. Surgery is the only curative treatment but is appropriate in less than 20% of cases, and even then it is associated with a 5-yr survival of less than 30% in selected series. Photodynamic therapy represents a novel treatment for pancreaticobiliary malignancy. It is a way of producing localized tissue necrosis with light, most conveninently from a low-power, red laser, after prior administration of a photosensitizing agent, thereby initiating a non-thermal cytotoxic effect and tissue necrosis. This review outlines the mechanisms of action of photodynamic therapy including direct cell death, vascular injury, and immune system activation, and summarizes the results of preclinical and clinical studies of photodynamic therapy for pancreaticobiliary malignancy.

Key Words

Pancreatic cancer cholangiocarcinoma ampullary carcinoma mechanisms photodynamic therapy 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lakshmana Ayaru
    • 1
  • Stephen G. Bown
    • 2
  • Stephen P. Pereira
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Hepatology, Department of MedicineRoyal Free & University College London Medical SchoolLondonUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.National Medical Laser Centre, Department of SurgeryRoyal Free & University College London Medical SchoolLondonUnited Kingdom

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