Electrochemotherapy (ECT) is a new treatment for metastatic nodules of solid tumors on the skin or subcutaneous tissue. ECT is a combination of a physical effect, cell membrane poration, and cytotoxic drug administration. Cell membrane poration is achieved by applying short intense electric filed pulses. Pore formation on the cell membrane allows low permeant drugs like bleomycin or cisplatin to enter the cell and thus locally increase their toxicity: up to 10.000 times for bleomycin and 80 times for cisplatin. ECT has been investigated in a multicenter study European Standard Operating Procedures for Electrochemotherapy (ESOPE) that demonstrates how by ECT over 80% of the cutaneous or subcutaneous metastatic nodules can be healed, thus confirming the results of previous studies. ECT efficacy is independent of tumor histology. The experience gathered in the ESOPE study allowed to prepare standard operating procedures that are key to the dissemination of the technology. ECT is safe effective, the treatment is completed in one session usually on an out-patient basis with minimum side-effects. ECT is cost-effective and, although palliative, it ameliorates patients' quality of life. ECT is the treatment of choice for tumors refractory to conventional treatment, can be used in form of cytoreductive therapy before conventional treatment for organ sparing and functions saving, finally can be adopted to treat hemorrhagic or painful nodules, it can be applied in previously irradiated areas.
ASJC Scopus subject areas