Post procedural pain with photodynamic therapy is more severe than skin surgery

Anthony J. Dixon, Stuart J. Anderson, Mary P. Dixon, John B. Dixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objective To compare prospective data on pain experienced by patients undergoing large facial skin cancer surgery with pain experienced with novel face photodynamic therapy (PDT). Design A comparison of pain data sets from two prospective trials in the same centre. Setting Referral skin cancer centre in Australia. Protocol 34 PDT patients had two aminolevulinate treatments to the face two weeks apart. 68 Surgery patients, matched 2:1 for gender and age, had large skin cancer excisional surgery to the face and closure with flap, graft or wedge reconstruction. Main outcome measure(s) Severity of pain during and following procedure. Results The only patients describing their experience as the worst pain of their life were 4 PDT patients (12%). The median and mean pain scores for PDT patients were significantly higher than for extensive facial large face surgery, (p < 0.001). Further analyses comparing PDT to patients having all skin cancer surgery on the face (N = 170) matched for gender and age demonstrated more pain experienced with PDT. PDT is significantly more likely to result in pain requiring strong analgesia or pain beyond strong analgesics than skin cancer surgery including large facial operations. Discussion and conclusions Clinicians should consider explaining the relative likelihood of more severe pain whenever PDT is considered over surgery. The pain experienced with this PDT product may not reflect the pain experienced with other PDT products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e28-e32
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Actinic keratoses
  • Analgesia
  • Pain
  • Photodynamic
  • Prospective
  • Reconstruction

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