What is PDT with PHOTOFRIN®?

Photodynamic therapy, or PDT as it is often called, is a type of treatment for certain kinds of cancer. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment for certain kinds of cancer that combines a drug, called a photosensitive agent PHOTOFRIN® (porfimer sodium), with a specific type of light to kill cancer cells.

Endobronchial Cancer

PHOTOFRIN is indicated for the treatment of microinvasive endobronchial non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in patients for who surgery and radiotherapy (a process that uses certain energy waves to kill cancer cells) are not indicated. PHOTOFRIN is indicated for the reduction of blockage and symptom relief in patients with endobronchial NSCLC that partially or totally blocks the bronchi (airways entering the lungs).1

PDT with PHOTOFRIN® is approved to treat a certain type of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in patients for whom surgery and radiotherapy are not appropriate. PDT with PHOTOFRIN® is used to relieve symptoms in patients with endobronchial NSCLC when the cancer obstructs or blocks the airway.

Esophageal Cancer

PHOTOFRIN® is indicated to help lessen symptoms of esophageal (food pipe) cancer when the cancer blocks the esophagus or when the cancer cannot be treated with laser alone.1

High-Grade Dysplasia in Barrett’s Esophagus

PHOTOFRIN is indicated for the ablation of high-grade dysplasia in Barrett’s esophagus patients who do not have part or all of the esophagus removed with surgery.1

Patient Guide

The patient guide has been designed to help you understand how PDT with PHOTOFRIN® works and what side effects may occur. It also explains what you need to do before and after treatment to prevent sensitivity to light, which is an abnormally strong sunburn-like reaction when your skin is exposed to sunlight or bright indoor light. This is a common potential side effect for people who are treated with PDT.1

If, after reading this guide, you have further questions, be sure to discuss them with your healthcare professional.

Important Safety Information


  • PHOTOFRIN® is contraindicated in patients with porphyria
  • Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is contraindicated in patients with an existing tracheoesophageal or bronchoesophageal fistula
  • PDT is contraindicated in patients with tumors eroding into a major blood vessel
  • PDT is not suitable for emergency treatment of patients with severe acute respiratory distress caused by an obstructing endobronchial lesion because 40 to 50 hours are required between injection with PHOTOFRIN and laser light treatment
  • PDT is not suitable for patients with esophageal or gastric varices, or patients with esophageal ulcers >1 cm in diameter

Warnings and Precautions

  • Tracheoesophageal or bronchoesophageal fistula can occur if esophageal tumor is eroding into trachea or bronchial tree
  • Gastrointestinal perforation can occur
  • High risk of bleeding in patients with esophageal varices
  • High risk for fatal massive hemoptysis with endobronchial tumors that are: large, centrally located; cavitating; extensive, extrinsic to the bronchus
  • After treatment of HGD in BE, monitor endoscopic biopsy every three months, until four consecutive negative evaluations for HGD have been recorded
  • Photosensitivity can be expected; ocular sensitivity is possible
  • Allow 2-4 weeks between PDT and subsequent radiotherapy
  • Substernal chest pain may occur after treatment
  • Treatment induced inflammation can cause airway obstruction. Administer with caution to patients with tumors in locations where treatment-induced inflammation can obstruct the main airway
  • Esophageal stenosis occurs frequently after treatment of HGD in BE
  • Patients with hepatic or renal impairment may need longer precautionary measures for photosensitivity
  • Thromboembolic events can occur following photodynamic therapy with PHOTOFRIN

Adverse Reactions

Most common adverse reactions reported during clinical trials (>10% of patients) are:

  • Esophageal Cancer: Anemia, pleural effusion, pyrexia, constipation, nausea, chest pain, pain, abdominal pain, dyspnoea, photosensitivity reaction, pneumonia, vomiting, insomnia, back pain, pharyngitis
  • Obstructing Endobronchial Cancer: Dyspnoea, photosensitivity reaction, hemoptysis, pyrexia, cough, pneumonia
  • Superficial Endobronchial Tumors: Exudate, photosensitivity reaction, bronchial obstruction, edema, bronchostenosis
  • High-Grade Dysplasia in Barrett’s Esophagus: Photosensitivity reaction, esophageal stenosis, vomiting, chest pain, nausea, pyrexia, constipation, dysphagia, abdominal pain, pleural effusion, dehydration

Please see accompanying full Prescribing Information for Photofrin


PHOTOFRIN®, Pinnacle Biologics™ and the logo of Pinnacle Biologics™ are trademarks of Pinnacle Biologics, Inc. See more.

The PHOTOFRIN® trademark is owned by Concordia Laboratories Inc.

PHOTOFRIN® is manufactured for Concordia Laboratories Inc. and distributed in the United States by Pinnacle Biologics Inc. See more.

Reference: 1. PHOTOFRIN® (porfimer sodium) Injection [package insert]. Bannockburn, IL: Pinnacle Biologics. June 2011.