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AIDS. 1999 Sep 10;13(13):1697-704.

Photofrin photodynamic therapy for treatment of AIDS-related cutaneous Kaposi's sarcoma.

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Department of Medicine, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York 14263, USA.



Kaposi's sarcoma, the most common malignancy in AIDS patients, often presents with painful cutaneous lesions that are difficult to treat effectively despite a wide variety of therapeutic approaches. We used photodynamic therapy in an attempt to provide effective palliative treatment for this disease.


Photodynamic therapy utilizes the activation by light of a photosensitizing drug that preferentially accumulates in tumor tissue such as Kaposi's sarcoma. We enrolled 25 patients who received 1.0 mg/kg of Photofrin 48 h before exposure to 100-400 J/cm2 of 630 nm light.


Of the 348 lesions treated, 289 were evaluable: 32.5% had complete clinical response, 63.3% had partial clinical response and 4.2% were clinical failures. There was a strong correlation between response and light dose: 54% of lesions achieved a complete clinical response at optimum light dose (> 250 J/cm2). There was no correlation of response with CD4 cell count nor was there a change in CD4 cell count post-treatment. At 400 J/cm2 full field scabbing and necrosis occurred in 90% of the treated fields. Thus, the maximum tolerated dose was determined to be 300 J/cm2. At light doses of 250 J/cm2 and below the toxicities were limited to erythema and edema in the treatment field. Forty-three biopsies were taken 0.5 h to 4 months post-treatment. These showed little change in the B and T cell infiltrates identified. Kaposi's sarcoma cells disappeared post-treatment in certain lesions.


Photofrin is effective palliative treatment for HIV-associated Kaposi's sarcoma.

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