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lasering for dysphagia

gail p-m

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My father is not doing well at all. He is too weak for further chemo and the tumors seem to be causing dysphagia. He's lost a lot of weight and eating is terribly difficult because of the dysphagia. Since he's already had radiation in the past to that area, he can't have more of that. However, I've read the little I could find (I did not look all that long yet) about lasering for dysphagia. Just wondering if anyone knows about that and can it be done if the area was already radiated.


gail p-m

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Gail, There are two major types of laser therapy: thermal and non-thermal. There is also photodynamic therapy, which uses a non-thermal laser and a photosensitizing drug that sensitizes tumor tissue to the laser light, and, when exposed to the laser, the tumor shrinks. Laser treatment works pretty fast; symptoms improve in about 2-3 days.

Both types of laser treatment carry some risk of perforating the esophagus. This risk is reduced by carefully examining the area to be treated (ideally with esophageal ultrasound). Pain and a short-term increase in symptoms are expected side effects from inflammation surrounding the treated area.

Questions to ask: will they do an esophageal US beforehand? Will they use a thermal laser or do photodynamic therapy (PDT)? If PDT, how long will the photosensitivity last? (Skin and eyes also absorb the photosensitizer.) Will hospitalization be needed ? (Sometimes it is, other times not.)

Please feel free to email me if you have other questions.

Best wishes for a smooth laser treatment, Teresa

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