Electrochemotherapy treatment of a recalcitrant earlobe keloid scar with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia infiltration

J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2010 Oct;63(10):e733-6. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2010.05.008. Epub 2010 Jun 2.


Electrochemotherapy, a tumour ablation modality, which facilitates intracellular delivery of poorly-permeable cytotoxic drugs, such as bleomycin, has shown promising results in the treatment of cutaneous and subcutaneous melanomatous and non-melanomatous metastases. We report the case of a 52-year-old Caucasian gentleman with a keloid scar to his left earlobe that developed following a piercing. Despite multiple intralesional steroidal injections, five intralesional excisions and a course of superficial radiotherapy the keloid scar remained over nine years later. For 15 years the patient had also suffered chronic lymphocytic leukaemia with no nodal disease or systemic involvement. However, histological analysis of the final surgical excision specimen showed chronic lymphocytic leukaemia infiltration of the keloid scar. Further surgical excision seemed unwise considering the recalcitrance of the keloid scar. Additionally, no systemic chemotherapy treatment options were feasible. Electrochemotherapy was performed under local anaesthesia with the aim of eradicating the chronic lymphocytic leukaemia deposit within the keloid lesion. Four sessions of electrochemotherapy using bleomycin were deployed over 11 months. A deep core biopsy of the treated keloid performed three months following the last electrochemotherapy session showed no evidence of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Serendipitously, following the initial electrochemotherapy treatment no further growth of the keloid scar was observed. Furthermore, subsequent electrochemotherapy led to a substantial reduction in size of the keloid sustained for 14 months at last follow-up. This report highlights the exciting potential of electrochemotherapy and bleomycin in the treatment of recalcitrant scars. Larger, well-designed clinical and in-vitro studies are required to further elucidate the exact role, mechanism and cost-effectiveness of electrochemotherapy in this area.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use*
  • Bleomycin / therapeutic use*
  • Ear Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Ear Neoplasms / pathology
  • Ear Neoplasms / surgery
  • Ear, External*
  • Electrochemotherapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Keloid / drug therapy*
  • Keloid / pathology
  • Keloid / surgery
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Bleomycin