Introduction: The external application of aminoleavulinic acid (ALA), which is a substrate of physiologic cell metabolism, represents a possible treatment option in superficial basal cell carcinomas (BCC). The development of new ALA-esters (mALA) with potential for higher penetration depths promises higher therapeutic success. This research aimed to prove the following hypothesis: The cytotoxic effect of the mALA- photodynamic therapy (mALA-PDT), when compared to the ALA-PDT, leads to a higher clinical success rate.
Material and Methods: 24 patients with multiple facial tumors, after having received several local surgical excisions with known histology, were treated with either ALA- or mALA-PDT, during the past two years. In total, 89 basal cell carcinoma, 45 actinic keratoses, 6 keratoacanthoma, and 2 squamous cell carcinomas were treated. ALA-PDT: A thermo gel with 40 % mALA or ALA was applied from a cooled syringe. Three to five hours after gel application the skin was cleaned from any gel residues. Irradiation was done with a diode laser and was performed in two sessions, each 10 min long. After intervals of 2, 4 and 12 weeks, the patients were recalled to assess therapeutic efficacy. This was followed by photographic documentation. Results: More than 80% of the tumors treated primarily were resolved successfully. A recurrence rate of approximately 15% was observed. Three per cent of the tumors showed no reaction to therapy. There were no statistically significant differences between the two therapeutic groups. Discussion: The advantage of the use of ALA lies foremost in the fast metabolic use of the body's own photosensitizer PpIX. There are no known side effects of this therapy. Moreover, external application is superior to systemic application with regard to patient management. The method can be combined with other therapies. Although the mALA should have a better penetration in tumor tissue, the therapeutic outcome is similar to the use of ALA.