Advances in the use of ECMO in oncology patient

Cancer Med. 2023 Aug;12(15):16243-16253. doi: 10.1002/cam4.6288. Epub 2023 Jul 17.


Background: Over the past decade, ECMO has provided temporary cardiopulmonary support to an increasing number of patients, but the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) to provide temporary respiratory and circulatory support to adult patients with malignancy remains controversial.

Objectives: This paper reviews the specific use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in oncology patients.

Methods: We searched PubMed, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, and Embase databases for studies on the use of ECMO in cancer patients between 1998 and 2022. Twenty-four retrospective, prospective, and case reports were included. The primary outcome was survival during extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

Results: Most studies suggest that ECMO can be used in oncology patients requiring life support during surgery, solid tumor patients with respiratory failure, and hematological tumor patients requiring ECOM as a supportive means of chemotherapy; however, in patients with hematologic oncology undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, there was no clear benefit after the use of ECMO.

Conclusion: Current research suggests that ECMO may be considered as a salvage support in specific cancer patients. Future studies should include larger sample sizes than those already conducted, including studies on efficacy, adverse events, and health.

Keywords: cancer patient; extracorporeal membrane oxygenation; intensive care unit.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation* / adverse effects
  • Heart
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / complications
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies