Electrochemotherapy for Breast Cancer-Results From the INSPECT Database

Clin Breast Cancer. 2018 Oct;18(5):e909-e917. doi: 10.1016/j.clbc.2018.03.007. Epub 2018 Mar 14.


Background: Cutaneous recurrence from breast cancer can pose a clinical challenge. It might be the only disease site, or could be part of disseminated disease, and often profoundly affects quality of life. Electrochemotherapy is a palliative treatment using electric pulses to locally permeabilize tumor cells and thereby significantly increase bleomycin cytotoxicity. Collaborating with the International Network for Sharing Practice on ElectroChemoTherapy (INSPECT), we consecutively and prospectively accrued data on patients treated with electrochemotherapy for cutaneous metastases from breast cancer.

Patients and methods: Patients were treated with electrochemotherapy at 10 European centers. Under either local or general anaesthesia patients were treated with either local injection (1000 IU/mL intratumoral) or systemic infusion (15,000 IU/m2) of bleomycin.

Results: One hundred nineteen patients were included at 10 institutions in the INSPECT network. The primary location was the chest (89%), the median diameter of the cutaneous metastases was 25 mm. Ninety patients were available for response evaluation after 2 months. Complete response was observed in 45 patients (50%), partial response in 19 (21%), stable disease in 16 (18%), and progressive disease in 7 (8%). Three patients were not evaluable. Common side effects were ulceration, long-lasting hyperpigmentation, and low-grade pain. No serious adverse events were observed.

Conclusion: Electrochemotherapy showed high response rates after a single treatment. Electrochemotherapy has few side effects and can be used as an adjunct to systemic therapies or as a solo treatment. We therefore recommend considering electrochemotherapy for patients with cutaneous metastases.

Keywords: Bleomycin; Cutaneous metastases; Electroporation; Outcome; Palliative care.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / administration & dosage
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / adverse effects
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use*
  • Bleomycin / administration & dosage
  • Bleomycin / adverse effects
  • Bleomycin / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Databases, Factual
  • Electrochemotherapy* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Bleomycin