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The contribution of medical physics to the development of psoralen photochemotherapy (PUVA) in the UK: A personal reminiscence

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Brian Diffey


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Psoralen photochemotherapy (PUVA) is the combined treatment of skin disorders with a photosensitizing drug (Psoralen) and UltraViolet A radiation. The introduction of PUVA therapy has arguably been the most important development in dermatology over the past 30 years and from the first days of the treatment being introduced in the UK, British medical physicists were an integral part of the effort to establish it. Medical physicists have contributed to this development in a number of ways, from designing irradiation units in the early days of the technique, through to collaborating with dermatologists in prosecuting clinical and experimental studies aimed at improving patient outcomes. That the dose of UVA radiation is administered quantitatively, and not qualitatively, has probably been the single most important contribution made by several medical physicists over this period. However, despite concerns that were expressed almost 30 years ago about the accuracy with which UVA doses are administered to patients, the medical physics community still has some way to go before we can be satisfied that statements about UVA irradiance and dose can be made with confidence. © 2006 IOP Publishing Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Diffey B

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Physics in Medicine and Biology

Year: 2006

Volume: 51

Issue: 13

Pages: R229-R244

ISSN (print): 0031-9155

ISSN (electronic): 1361-6560


DOI: 10.1088/0031-9155/51/13/R14

PubMed id: 16790905