PDT is sometimes offered at Roswell Park through clinical trials, which study promising new treatments that have not yet been approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). For example, clinical trials of PDT are often available for certain cancers within the lung or on the lung lining (pleura). PDT is performed immediately after removal of the tumor, while the patient is still in surgery.
Roswell Park is at the forefront of precision delivery of photodynamic therapy. Our researchers in the PDT Center are studying the effectiveness of treating large head and neck cancers with interstitial PDT (I-PDT). This technology was first developed in studies funded by the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NCI/NIH). In those studies, the research team identified laser settings that could significantly improve I-PDT to achieve local control and cure of large tumors.
The studies laid the groundwork for a new clinical trial in which I-PDT is offered for patients with locally advanced (relatively large) head and neck cancer that has not responded to prior treatments, in patients who are not candidates for surgery or radiation. In this NCI/NIH-funded study, the I-PDT will be given along with a chemotherapy and/or targeted therapy or immunotherapy that has had limited success in treating these tumors. This latest study aims to find out whether the addition of I-PDT can control the tumor better.
Before I-PDT treatment, the patient undergoes CT imaging to help the PDT team determine how many optical fibers should be used for delivery of the laser light, where they should be placed and how much light will be delivered from each fiber. During treatment, a light-dosimetry system developed at Roswell Park is used to measure, in real time, how much light is being delivered by each optical fiber. Adjustments can then be made as necessary to ensure that the right amount of light is delivered to the tumor to meet the goals of the treatment plan for that specific tumor size and location.
Many clinical trials offered at Roswell Park, such as the ones described above, are investigator-initiated studies, which means they were designed by Roswell Park researchers rather than pharmaceutical company sponsors. This is important because our researchers have the authority to enroll more patients on a study or to make changes to fit a specific patient population who have no good options for treating their cancer. All these studies are conducted with appropriate approval from local, state and federal agencies.
You can find PDT clinical trials at Roswell Park by using the drop-down list to search for the type of cancer you have. To search for PDT clinical trials at other institutions across the country, visit the National Cancer Institute website and enter “PDT” or the type of cancer in the search box.