What is Electrochemotherapy?

Electrochemotherapy is a combination of chemotherapy with an electric pulse. Its main use is to make chemotherapy more effective.

The electric pulse alters the cancer cell’s outer layer, so the chemotherapy will have an easier time getting inside the cell.


Who Can Have Electrochemotherapy?

Doctors use electrochemotherapy procedure for cancers that started in the skin or cancers that have spread to the skin from elsewhere. These include:

· Basal and squamous cell skin cancers

· Melanoma skin cancer

· Kaposi’s sarcoma

· Breast cancer that has spread to the skin

· Head and neck cancers that have spread to the skin

There are also interesting findings for this treatment on liver metastasis. 



How is Electrochemotherapy Done?

Electrochemotherapy as either:

· An injection into the tumor (intratumoral)

· An injection into the bloodstream through a small tube (intravenously)

The electric pulse is sent to the tumor through a specific probe.

This Therapy is done as an outpatient procedure. However, patients may need to spend the night in the hospital occasionally. A patient will receive general anesthesia or a local anesthetic combined with a sleep-inducing medication (sedated).


Electrochemotherapy Success Rate

Electrochemotherapy has proved to be both an efficient and safe approach for treating tumors in clinical studies. The treatment response for various tumors (mainly melanoma) was ∼75% complete and 10% partial response of the treated nodules.


Medical Research on Electrochemotherapy

Electrochemotherapy has been authorized by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). It’s a treatment for patients with skin malignancies that may be done when other treatments have failed. It was found that most patients who receive this treatment experienced some relief in their symptoms. However, the extent to which it aids differs from patient to patient. 

Researchers aim to see how effective Electrochemotherapy is for various malignancies. Here are examples of research:

• Electrochemotherapy as a treatment for tumors that have remotely spread (such as to bones or liver).

• Using Electrochemotherapy in conjunction with other therapies like surgery

• Using an electrical current in conjunction with several types of medications, such as immunotherapy.



Side Effects of Electrochemotherapy

• Pain in the place where the electrode touches the skin is the most common adverse effect. This is usually moderate and only lasts a few days.

• Muscle contractions—some persons experience muscle contractions due to the treatment.

• Feeling nauseous — some people get sick on a regular basis, although it is usually light and may be treated with anti-sickness medication.

• Infection-An infection in the area is uncommon, although it can happen.

• Skin breakdown- The treatment region may develop an ulcer, or the skin may break down.


In the video below, Dr. Testorri discusses employing Electrochemotherapy to increase cytotoxic absorption and drive tumor cell death with E-cancer at EADO 2017. 

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