Background and study aims
Electrochemotherapy is an anticancer treatment that uses electric pulses to facilitate uptake of chemotherapeutic drugs in tumor cells and has proven to have a high local cytotoxic effect with minimal adverse events. Electrochemotherapy has mostly been used in treatment of cutaneous metastases but development of a new endoscopic electrode device has made treatment of colorectal tumors possible. This first-in-man multicenter phase I study investigated safety and efficacy of electrochemotherapy using endoscopic electroporation in patients with colorectal tumors.
Patients and methods
Seven patients with colorectal tumors who were deemed ineligible for or had declined standard treatment were included. They were treated with bleomycin either intratumorally or intravenously and the electric pulses were delivered through the endoscopic electrode device. Safety and efficacy were assessed clinically and by scans immediately after treatment and adverse events were reported. Response was evaluated up to 6 months after treatment by scans (magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography) and endoscopic examinations.
Seven patients aged 62 to 88 years with multiple comorbidities were included and had one or two treatments each. Post-treatment scans showed tumor responses in the treated areas and no damage to surrounding tissues. Only a few grade one adverse events were reported. Three patients had preoperative rectal bleeding, of which two reported cessation of bleeding and one reported decreased bleeding.
This first-in-man study shows that electrochemotherapy for colorectal tumors using the endoscopic electrode device can induce local tumor response and is safe also for fragile elderly patients with comorbidities.