OBJECTIVE: To assess local disease control rates (LDCR) and overall survival (OS) in locally advanced pancreatic cancer (LAPC) treated with electrochemotherapy (ECT).
METHODS: Electrochemotherapy with bleomycin was performed in 25 LAPC patients who underwent baseline Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and/or Computed Tomography (CT) and Position Emission Tomography (PET) scans before ECT and 1 and 6 months post ECT. LDCR were assessed using Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors (RECIST 1.1) and Choi criteria. Needle electrodes with fixed linear (N-30-4B) or fixed hexagonal configurations (N-30-HG or I-40-HG or H-30-ST) or variable geometry (VGD1230 or VGD1240) (IGEA S.p.A., Carpi, Italy) were used to apply electric pulses. Pain evaluation was performed pre-ECT, after 1 month and after 6 months with ECT. Overall survival estimates were calculated by means of a Kaplan-Meier analysis.
RESULTS: At 1 month after ECT, 76% of patients were in partial response (PR) and 20% in stable disease (SD). Six months after ECT, 44.0% patients were still in PR and 12.0% in SD. A LDCR of 56.0% was reached six months after ECT: 13 patients treated with fixed geometry had a LDCR of 46.1%, while for the 12 patients treated with variable geometry, the LDCR was 66.7%. The overall survival median value was 11.5 months: for patients treated with fixed geometry the OS was 6 months, while for patients treated with variable geometry it was 12 months. Electrochemotherapy was well-tolerated and abdominal pain was rapidly resolved.
CONCLUSIONS: Electrochemotherapy obtained good results in terms of LDCR and OS in LAPC. Multiple needle insertion in a variable geometry configuration optimized by pre-treatment planning determined an increase in LDCR and OS compared to a fixed geometry configuration.