Photodynamic diagnosis of breast tumours after oral application of aminolevulinic acid

D. P. Ladner, R. A. Steiner, J. Allemann, U. Haller, H. Walt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Photodynamic diagnosis is of increasing interest for diagnosis in oncology. It is based on a more intense incorporation of a fluorescent dye in tumours compared to normal tissue. As a feasibility study we investigated the effectiveness of oral application of 5-aminolevulinic acid for photodynamic diagnosis of human primary mammary tumours. The study included 16 patients with palpable breast tumours. Aminolevulinic acid was administered at a concentration of 40 mg kg -1 bodyweight 150-420 min prior to tumourectomy. Intraoperatively blue light (405 nm) was applied to the operation site. Sections of the excised tumour and some lymph nodes were prepared and analysed with a fluorescent microscope. All primary mammary tumour tissues showed significantly higher fluorescence intensity than surrounding normal mammary tissue. Fluorescence of the mammary tumours could also be discriminated macroscopically and intraoperatively. Fluorescence intensity in nonmetastatic lymph node tissue was higher in 2 out of 3 patients than in primary tumour tissue. By photodynamic diagnosis using aminolevulinic acid we were able to reliably distinguish primary mammary tumours from normal mammary tissue microscopically and macroscopically in all our patients. We suggest that photodynamic diagnosis with aminolevulinic acid for breast tumours should be further investigated and developed for intraoperative use and may well be a simple tool for better intraoperative diagnosis and recognition of tumour margins. We hypothesize that lymph node metastasis of breast tumours will not be detectable by this method.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-37
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Aminolevulinic acid
  • Axillary lymph nodes
  • Breast tumours
  • Photodynamic diagnosis
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Photosensitizer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Photodynamic diagnosis of breast tumours after oral application of aminolevulinic acid'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this