The DAHANCA 32 study: Electrochemotherapy for recurrent mucosal head and neck cancer

Head Neck. 2019 Feb;41(2):329-339. doi: 10.1002/hed.25454. Epub 2018 Dec 15.


Background: Electrochemotherapy is an established treatment for cutaneous tumors. This study aimed at determining efficacy of electrochemotherapy in recurrent head and neck cancer.

Methods: Phase II clinical trial in patients with recurrent head and neck carcinomas with no curative treatment options. Electrochemotherapy was performed under general anesthesia. Primary endpoint was tumor response (CT scanning) evaluated at week 8. Secondary endpoints included biopsy results, MRI and fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography scanning, safety, toxicity, pain score, and quality-of-life questionnaires.

Results: Of 26 patients treated, 5 (19%) achieved complete response, 10 (39%) partial response, resulting in an objective response of 58%. Two responders remain without recurrence. No serious adverse events occurred during treatment. Four events occurred posttreatment: one bleeding episode, two episodes with mucosal swelling, and one patient died due to disease progression.

Conclusion: Electrochemotherapy is efficient against local recurrence of head and neck cancer with an overall response rate of 58%.

Keywords: bleomycin; electrochemotherapy; electroporation; head and neck cancer; quality-of-life.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Adenoid Cystic / therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / therapy*
  • Electrochemotherapy*
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / mortality
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucous Membrane
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / mortality
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy*
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome