Background: Cold-atmospheric plasma (CAP) is an ionized gas produced at an atmospheric pressure. The aim of this systematic review is to map the use of CAP in oncology and the implemented methodologies (cell targets, physical parameters, direct or indirect therapies).
Methods: PubMed, the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform and Google Scholar were explored until 31 December 2017 for studies regarding the use of plasma treatment in oncology (in vitro, in vivo, clinical trials).
Results: 190 original articles were included. Plasma jets are the most-used production systems (72.1%). Helium alone was the most-used gas (35.8%), followed by air (26.3%) and argon (22.1%). Studies were mostly in vitro (94.7%) and concerned direct plasma treatments (84.2%). The most targeted cancer cell lines are human cell lines (87.4%), in particular, in brain cancer (16.3%).
Conclusions: This study highlights the multiplicity of means of production and clinical applications of the CAP in oncology. While some devices may be used directly at the bedside, others open the way for the development of new pharmaceutical products that could be generated at an industrial scale. However, its clinical use strongly needs the development of standardized reliable protocols, to determine the more efficient type of plasma for each type of cancer, and its combination with conventional treatments.
Keywords: neoplasms; nonthermal atmospheric pressure plasma; oncology; plasma jet; review.