World Journal of Surgery

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 813–822 | Cite as

Electrochemotherapy Treatment of Locally Advanced and Metastatic Soft Tissue Sarcomas: Results of a Non-Comparative Phase II Study

  • Luca G. CampanaEmail author
  • Giuseppe Bianchi
  • Simone Mocellin
  • Sara Valpione
  • Laura Campanacci
  • Antonella Brunello
  • Davide Donati
  • Elisabetta Sieni
  • Carlo R. Rossi



Our aim was to evaluate the activity, toxicity, and feasibility of electrochemotherapy (ECT) in patients with soft-tissue sarcomas (STS).


A two-stage phase II trial was conducted between October 2006 and March 2012. Patients (N = 34) with locally advanced or metastatic STS, unsuitable for standard oncological treatments and with maximum 3-cm deep tumors, received an intravenous bolus of bleomycin (15,000 IU/m2), followed by tumor electroporation according to the European Standard Operating Procedures of ECT. Outcome measures included local response according to response evaluation criteria in solid tumors (RECIST), toxicity and tumor control. Feasibility measures included the accuracy of electrode placement and the intensity of electric current flowing in tumor tissue.


Median tumor size was 4.0 cm (range 2–12). Objective response, assessed on 71 target lesions, was 92.2 % (complete 32.3, 95 % CI 28–64). A total of 15 patients received up to four cycles due to incomplete response, but re-treatment did not significantly improve outcome (p = 0.205). After a median follow-up of 19.3 months, 2-year local control rate was 72.5 %. Median time to local failure (N = 11 patients) was 5.1 months. Tumor response (p = 0.041) and control (p = 0.047) correlated with histological grading. Relevant toxicity consisted of G3 skin ulceration and soft tissue necrosis (35 and 23 % of patients, respectively), although this was manageable on an outpatient basis. The accuracy of electrode placement was 47.1 %, and the adequacy of electroporative current 85.3 %.


ECT may represent an active and safe treatment to achieve local control in advanced STS patients with symptomatic disease. Future research challenges include the improvement of electrode placement and voltage delivery together with the containment of soft tissue toxicity.


Soft Tissue Sarcoma Pazopanib Electrode Placement Soft Tissue Sarcoma Patient Advanced Soft Tissue Sarcoma 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Participating investigators: Angelo Ciccarese, Sandra Cappellato, Connie Celentano, Anaesthesiology Section, Sara Galuppo, Luigi Corti, Radiotherapy Section, Antonella Vecchiato, Sarcoma and Melanoma Unit, cared for patients at the Veneto Oncology Institute; Maria Di Fiore, Stefano Bonarelli, Anaesthesiology Section, Stefano Ferrari, Medical Oncology, Andrea Galuppi, Radiotherapy Section (Sant’Orsola Malpighi Hospital of Bologna), cared for patients at the Orthopaedic Oncology Rizzoli Institute. Paolo Del Fiore retrieved demographic data. Romina Spina administered the quality-of-life questionnaire and managed the study-dedicated database. Francesca Deterlizzi analyzed EQ-5D data. The authors gratefully thank Professor Damian Miklavčič and his research group from Ljubljana University, Slovenia, for the fruitful discussions on mechanism of action of electrochemotherapy and currently investigated technical advancements.

Conflict of interest

Luca G. Campana, Giuseppe Bianchi and Carlo R. Rossi were sponsored by IGEA Company for travel and accommodation at the “Electrochemotherapy 2nd International Users’ Meeting”, Bologna, Italy, March 1–2, 2013. No financial benefit was obtained. The other authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

268_2013_2321_MOESM1_ESM.doc (38 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 38 kb)
268_2013_2321_MOESM2_ESM.doc (1 mb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 1046 kb)
268_2013_2321_MOESM3_ESM.tif (83 kb)
eFig. 1 Patient reported health status according to the EuroQoL Group (EQ-5D) after electrochemotherapy. a Percentage of patients with problems in one or more of the five dimensions explored by the EQ-5D descriptive system; b Visual analog scale (EQ-VAS) scores (* p = 0.003) (TIFF 82 kb)


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Copyright information

© Société Internationale de Chirurgie 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luca G. Campana
    • 1
    Email author
  • Giuseppe Bianchi
    • 2
  • Simone Mocellin
    • 3
  • Sara Valpione
    • 4
  • Laura Campanacci
    • 2
  • Antonella Brunello
    • 5
  • Davide Donati
    • 2
  • Elisabetta Sieni
    • 6
  • Carlo R. Rossi
    • 1
  1. 1.Sarcoma and Melanoma UnitVeneto Institute of Oncology (IOV-IRCCS)PaduaItaly
  2. 2.Oncologic, Orthopaedic and Trauma SurgeryRizzoli Orthopaedic InstituteBolognaItaly
  3. 3.Surgery Branch, Department of Surgery Oncology and GastroenterologyUniversity of PadovaPaduaItaly
  4. 4.Medical Oncology SchoolUniversity of PadovaPaduaItaly
  5. 5.Medical Oncology-IVeneto Institute of Oncology (IOV-IRCCS)PaduaItaly
  6. 6.Department of Industrial EngineeringUniversity of PadovaPaduaItaly

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