Using Photodynamic Therapy with Surgery to More Effectively Destroy Cancer Cells

David BellnierSandra GollnickWhen it comes to treating most cancers, surgery is a mainstay of the treatment plan. While surgeons aim to remove all cancerous tissue, this is often challenging and some microscopic cancer cells can remain.

Thanks to your gifts, a team of researchers including David Bellnier, PhD; Sandra Gollnick, PhD; John Kane III, MD, FACS; and Mukund Seshadri, DDS, PhD, are exploring the usefulness of photodynamic therapy (PDT) when applied in combination with surgery.

PDT is a treatment developed at RPCI that uses a special drug (called a photosensitizer) along with red light to kill cancer cells. PDT will be applied to both the site of surgery and the surgical margin immediately after the tumor is surgically removed.

John KaneSeshadri“Even the most precise surgical instruments may leave some tumor cells behind,” said Dr. Bellnier. “Destroying cancer cells more effectively by combining surgery with PDT may give patients a better chance at avoiding relapse and achieving long-term survival.”