Electrochemotherapy for cutaneous and subcutaneous tumor lesions: a novel therapeutic approach


Alessandro Testori, MD, IEO, European Institute of Oncology, Via Ripamonti 435, 20141 Milano, Italy, or email: alessandro.testori@ieo.it.


Electroporation uses pulsed, high-intensity electric fields to temporarily increase cell membrane permeability by creation of pores, through which small molecules, such as chemotherapeutic agents, can diffuse inside cells before they reseal. The combination of electroporation with the administration of otherwise low-permeant cytotoxic drugs is known as electrochemotherapy (ECT). The two most commonly used drugs are bleomycin and cisplatin. ECT has already been proven to be effective in diverse tumor histotypes, including melanoma and basal and squamous cell carcinoma, Kaposi sarcoma, and breast cancer, also in those cases nonresponding to classical chemotherapies or other loco-regional treatment modalities, with a good safety profile. ECT can be proposed as loco-regional therapy for disseminated cutaneous and subcutaneous tumor lesions as alternative treatment modality to conventional therapies or as palliative care, in order to improve patients' quality of life.