BACKGROUND: Electrochemotherapy (ECT) is a well established treatment strategy for skin tumors of different histology. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of electrochemotherapy in the palliative setting in patients with head and neck malignancies, already treated with surgery and/or radio-chemotherapy with no other therapeutic option.
METHODS: Thirty-six patients with a loco-regional M0/M1 relapse with no other therapeutic option not suitable for a cure with a radical intent by surgery or RT and not suitable for systemic therapy and/or already treated with it, were admitted to electrochemotherapy (ECT) protocol treatment. ECT was performed according ESOPE guidelines. Clinical features, treatment response, and adverse effects were evaluated 15, 30 days and then every months after the treatment.
RESULTS: An overall response of 100% was observed. Only 3 patients out 36 showed a CR. Overall survival probability at 12 months was 41.6% (median OS: 9 months). In all patient, an improvement of quality of life in terms of pain, bleeding events were observed, while need for medical assistance or dressing was significantly reduced 1 month after electrochemotherapy (p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Electrochemotherapy is an effective palliative treatment of non-resectable head and neck malignancies able. Due to the ECT limited side effects, its early use would be desirable to obtain a better local control of the disease and improve quality of life of patients.