BACKGROUND The thickness and depth of invasion of skin tumors may be limiting factors for topical photosensitizer-based photodynamic therapy (PDT). The use of PDT with systemic photosensitizer needs to be further explored as a modality of treatment for nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC).

OBJECTIVE The objective was to present six patients with multiple, nodular, and/or pigmented NMSC treated successfully with purified hematoporphyrin derivative (PHD) and PDT using prior debulking.

METHODS After 24 hours of systemic PHD (1.5 mg/kg), 12 lesions of NMSC were selected for PHD-PDT alone and 6 nodular/elevated lesions for PHD-PDT following a debulking procedure. The tumor area was illuminated in one single-dose session of 300 J/cm2, at an intensity range of 130 to 150 mW/cm2, with a 630-nm-wavelength diode laser.

RESULTS The prior curettage provided significant reduction in volume and/or pigmentation of lesions. After the session of PHD-PDT with prior curettage and additional topical 20% ALA-PDT in two lesions or PHD-PDT alone, 83% (5/6) of lesions and 58% (7/12) of lesions, respectively, maintained a complete clinical response, 22.2±8.9 months of follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS The combination of prior debulking with systemic agents-PDT appears to be a good option for multiple, pigmented, and/or nodular lesions of NMSC and can allow the improvement of clinical results.