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A novel treatment is now available in some places for treatment of esophageal carcinoma. The treatment, called Photodynamic Therapy (PDT), involves treating the cancer cells with photosensitive drugs and then applying red laser light to destroy the target cells. The therapy is highly effective for treating Barrett's esophagus which usually develops in GERD patients. Traditionally, surgical esophagectomy was the only treatment available and it required a 3-4 week hospital stay. The new therapy is much quicker and cheaper and less invasive. Surgery has a complication rate of 29% and costs more than $88,000 compared to PDT which is about $35,000. Side effects of PDT include nausea, mild constipation, chest discomfort and a constricted feeling in throat. A major side effect of the treatment is extreme light sensitivity which means that treated patients must virtually totally avoid direct and indirect sunlight for a minimum of six weeks. The treatment is not suitable for people who have had previous high-dose radiotherapy treatment, have poor pulmonary function, have multifocal or multilobar disease as well as certain other conditions. 10-15% of GERD sufferers eventually develop Barrett's esophagus of which only 1-2% develop into esophageal cancer. 13,000 new cases of esophageal cancer are diagnosed annually and it causes 12,500 deaths annually.
Source: summary of medical news story as reported by Kansas City Nursing News
About: New treatment for esophageal cancer involves laser light
Date: 3 January 2005
Source: Kansas City Nursing News
Author: Lisa Waterman Gray
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