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Electrochemotherapy Causes Fewer Side Effects than the Conventional Chemotherapy   

 

As the incidence of cancer is intensitying the number of patients treated with chemotherapy is constantly increasing. This increase is due to the recommendation of chemo, in addition to other treatments or alone, by most oncologists. But chemotherapy side effects are still feared, and the effectiveness in sucessfully treating most cancers is still slim.

In fact, the word chemotherapy horrifies certain patients who have experience the adverse reactions of the therapy: nausea, vomiting, hair loss, anemia, and others. The good news: a recent method, electrochemotherapy, allows in some cases to escape most side effects, while providing the same or even better results.

What is the electrochemotherapy?

As the name suggests, electrochemotherapy is a combination of chemotherapy and use of electrical pulses directly to the cancer cells. This is a new approach but seems very promising. 

Chemotherapy is the fact of using chemical substances known as anti-cancer drugs to destroy or stop the growth of cancer cells. Once injected into the body, the medications damage the DNA of the malignant cells, thus preventing them from reproducing. The cancer cells then end up dying; therefore, the tumor regresses. But most of the times the malignant cells are not really fetally damaged by the drugs. They continue to reproduce and migrate to other parts of the body, leading to serious stage of the disease called mestastatic cancer.

A more effective approach that can prevent chemoresistance and kill the cancer cells would be necessary. In case of non-mestatic cancer where the cancerous cells are very localized, electro-chemotherapy can be used. This will make the treatment more effective and, above all, to significantly reduce the side effects. Electrochemotherapy
is an effective mean to overcome chemoresistanceand treat chemoresistantcancers. In addition, the procedure is not binding; patients leave the hospital the same day. 

 

Electro-chemotherapy is also an ideal weapon against metastatic cancers. When metastases recur, the therapy may be prescribed again and again. The patient can undergo therapy up to twenty times.

Availability of Electrochemotherapy 

 

Electrochemotherapy was first used about two decades ago. It was used in 1991 at the Institute Gustave Roussy, France, for the first time, along with bleomycin.  And then in 1995 at the Institute of Oncology, Ljubljana, Slovenia, electrochemotherapy was used with cisplatin. The results were so encouraging that other health professionals all over the world have adopted it. As for today, it is estimated that more than 4000 patients have been treated with electrochemotherapy worldwide. 


But the therapy has some drawbacks. Generally,
 electrochemotherapy  is mostly recomemnded to treat older or frail people who have resistance to conventional chemotherapy or who have not underwent surgery. It currently limited to cutaneous and subcutaneous metastases, although studies are in progress to use it in the treatment of breast cancer as well as bone cancer metastases in the liver. In addition, there is not enough machine of its kind to treat all cancer patients that are qualified for it. 

Electrochemotherapy Side Effects 

Electrochemotherapy side effects are much fewer than those of chemotherapy. In fact, in most cases it almost causes no adverse rections besides perhaps a burning sensation and a slight fever. Studies have shown that this technique was well tolerated by cancer patients.