Among the speakers was Dr Luca Campana of the University of Padova, Italy. Dr Campana outlined his experience with electrochemotherapy for advanced malignant melanoma, as well as a variety of other tumour types including soft tissue sarcomas.
Electrochemotherapy uses an electrical current to punch holes in malignant cells (electroporation) making them permeable to large chemotherapy molecules such as bleomycin. Bleomycin binds with the DNA of cancerous cells causing cell death. Electrochemotherapy has been shown to increase the efficacy of bleomycin in the treatment of melanoma up to 5,000-fold.
In their paper in the British Journal of Surgery, Campana et al showed a complete response rate of 48% after one treatment and 71% after two electrochemotherapy treatments. Factors predictive for a good local response were less than 20 tumour nodules and individual nodule size less than 3cm.
Currently there are only six centres in the United Kingdom offering electrochemotherapy.
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