Background: Electrochemotherapy (ECT) is an established procedure for treating breast cancer loco-regional recurrences following surgical intervention and/or radiotherapy. Limited information is available on ECT application as a concomitant procedure to systemic therapy in recurrent breast cancer. The primary objective of this study was to determine if the application of ECT in close temporal relation to systemic chemotherapy could lead to increased local and/or systemic side effects. For this purpose we evaluated the safety of ECT as a supplemental local therapy to systemic therapy. ECT local and systemic toxicity and side effects were recorded and whether the anticipated local therapeutic effect of ECT would be influenced by the concomitant use of systemic therapies was investigated.
Patients and methods: This is an observational study. Thirty three patients with loco-regional metastasized breast carcinoma were treated and observed over a period of three years with 46 ECT applications for local tumour control in addition to established systemic therapy. A specific timeline for ECT administration was not fixed up, but was generally performed one week before the following chemotherapy administration with the aim to avoid the so called nadir, this means the peak period with risk of neutropenia.
Results: Data was collected over a period of three years on a population of 33 metastatic patients. Fifteen patients, received neo-adjuvant therapy as part of their primary treatment, but still had an advanced stage tumour. Some patients received repeated ECT applications. Objective tumour response was observed in 90% of the treated patients. Patients showed no increased local toxicity, especially no higher dermal toxicity, e.g. formation of local necrosis.
Conclusions: ECT proved to be an effective supplement to a cytotoxic systemic therapy, especially for high-risk patients who did not respond well to systemic therapy of loco-regional metastases, without creating any greater systemic or loco-regional toxicities.
Keywords: concomitant systemic therapy; electroporation; local control; local toxicity; loco-regional metastases; supplement systemic therapy.