Who benefits from electrochemotherapy?
Patients over the age of 18 can benefit from electrochemotherapy, providing the cancer is related to the skin or near the skin’s surface. There is no upper age limit for this treatment.
For more information please discuss with your doctor.
What type of cancer can be treated?
Electrochemotherapy is used to treat cancers that have spread to the skin or just below the skin’s surface (metastasised) from the following types of cancer:
- All types of skin cancer (melanoma and non-melanoma)
- Breast cancer recurrence
- Head and neck cancers including oral cancer
- Carcinoma of the vulva
Electrochemotherapy can be used to shrink large cancers making them easier to remove surgically. Your doctor will discuss this option with you if your cancer is suitable for this therapy.
Clinical studies on the treatment of bone, pancreas, liver and rectum tumours are ongoing.
What can I expect from my treatment?
You have been told by your doctor that you need electrochemotherapy to treat the cancer that has either spread from your original cancer and / or is suitable for this treatment.
This leaflet is designed to help answer your questions about the treatment so that you are fully aware of what to expect.
Will I be asleep?
This is dependant upon the size of tumour or location/s of cancer and nodules requiring treatment, electrochemotherapy can be performed either under local or general anaesthesia. Your doctor will advise what is best for you.
Are there any side effects?
Some patients may experience a mild fever following the treatment but medication can be prescribed to relieve this.
On rare occasions the wound site may become infected. Signs to look out for around the wound site include increased redness and pain, discharge or fluid leakage.
If you are concerned about these symptoms you should contact your GP or hospital medical team.
Serious side effects are extremely rare but, as with all medical interventions, can happen. In very few cases patients may have an allergic reaction to the chemotherapy drug or may experience shortness of breath.
This highlights why it is important to have any relevant investigations before the day of treatment.
How long will I stay in hospital?
The procedure can be carried out as a day case but hospital stay will vary from patient to patient depending on your general health.
What can I expect afterwards?
The treated area will be covered with a dressing which will be changed frequently. A nurse may be involved if required.
Lesions will turn black and scab over and may look worse before you notice any improvement. This is totally normal and part of the healing process.
You may experience a feeling of warmth and some discomfort around the treatment site approximately two weeks afterward the procedure. You should take pain relief if required.
A change in skin pigmentation, either darker or lighter, is expected once the lesion has healed.
You will be provided with the contact number of a key nurse whom you should contact if you have any questions or concerns.
Will I need pain relief?
Most people tolerate the therapy well with minimal post-treatment pain but pain levels do vary from patient to patient.
If required, your doctor can prescribe medication to help with any pain and you should take this as directed.
Will I need more than one treatment?
Electrochemotherapy can be repeated as necessary to improve the response to the treatment or to control any new cancer nodules that appear.
How do I get reffered for electrochemotherapy treatment?
If you are considering electrochemotherapy use the interactive map to search for where the service is available.
You can then discuss electrochemotherapy with your consultant, oncologist or clinical team about being referred for electrochemotherapy.
Your medical team will be able to discuss with you whether you would be a suitable patient for the treatment and can assist you with the next steps.