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Long-term response after electrochemotherapy in patients with relapsed or refractory cutaneous melanoma

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Treatment of early and multiple cutaneous unresectable recurrences is a major therapeutic problem with around 80% of patients relapsing within 5 years [1]. For lesions refractory to elective treatments, electrochemotherapy (ECT) involving electroporation combined with antineoplastic drug treatment appears to be a new potential option [2]. This study was undertaken to analyze the short- and long-term responses of lesions treated with ECT with intravenous injection of bleomycin in melanoma patients with in-transit disease or distant cutaneous metastases.

Materials and methods

Between January 2007 and September 2012, 60 patients with relapsed and refractory cutaneous melanoma metastases or in-transit disease underwent 100 courses of ECT with intravenous injection of bleomycin. Response to treatment was evaluated three months after ECT. A long-lasting response was defined as no cutaneous or in-transit relapse after a minimum of six months.


Three months after ECT, a complete response was observed in 29 patients (48.4%), a partial response in 23 patients (38.3%) and no change or progressive disease in 8 patients (13.3%). The objective response rate of all treated lesions was 86.6%. Thirteen patients (44.8% of complete responders) experienced a long-lasting response to ECT and were disease-free after a mean duration of follow-up of 27.5 months.


The favorable outcome obtained in the present study demonstrates that ECT is a reliable, and effective procedure that provides long-term benefit in terms of curative and palliative treatment for unresectable cutaneous lesions without adversely impacting the quality of life of patients [37].


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Correspondence to Ugo Marone.

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  • Melanoma
  • Intravenous Injection
  • Bleomycin
  • Melanoma Patient
  • Objective Response Rate