Research Article: Management of cutaneous metastases using electrochemotherapy

Date Published: June 16, 2011

Publisher: Informa Healthcare

Author(s): Louise Wichmann Matthiessen, Richard Ling Chalmers, David Christopher George Sainsbury, Sivakumar Veeramani, Gareth Kessell, Alison Claire Humphreys, Jane Elisabeth Bond, Tobian Muir, Julie Gehl.


Background. Cutaneous metastases may cause considerable discomfort as a consequence of ulceration, oozing, bleeding and pain. Electrochemotherapy has proven to be highly effective in the treatment of cutaneous metastases. Electrochemotherapy utilises pulses of electricity to increase the permeability of the cell membrane and thereby augment the effect of chemotherapy. For the drug bleomycin, the effect is enhanced several hundred-fold, enabling once-only treatment. The primary endpoint of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of electrochemotherapy as a palliative treatment. Methods. This phase II study is a collaboration between two centres, one in Denmark and the other in the UK. Patients with cutaneous metastases of any histology were included. Bleomycin was administered intratumourally or intravenously followed by application of electric pulses to the tumour site. Results. Fifty-two patients were included. Complete and partial response rate was 68% and 18%, respectively, for cutaneous metastases <3 cm and 8% and 23%, respectively, for cutaneous metastases >3 cm. Treatment was well-tolerated by patients, including the elderly, and no serious adverse events were observed. Conclusions. ECT is an efficient and safe treatment and clinicians should not hesitate to use it even in the elderly.

Partial Text

In conclusion, our results in concordance with previous studies suggest ECT is an efficient treatment that may improve quality of life in patients with meta-static disease and clinicians should not hesitate to use it even for elderly patients. ECT is simple to administer, and can therefore be implemented by smaller hospital units with resultant benefits for patients.




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