Electrochemotherapy is a treatment for cancer and some other health conditions. It combines chemotherapy and a small electrical current. Your healthcare team may call it ECT.
Electrochemotherapy helps to get chemotherapy to the cancer cells. Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer medicines to destroy cancer cells.
Why you should have electrochemotherapy
Your healthcare team will recommend the best treatment for you. Electrochemotherapy can:
- treat your cancer or health condition
- reduce the symptoms you have
- reduce the size of your cancer
- give you less side effects because it’s a lower dose of chemotherapy
- target the treatment area
Other treatment options
If there is another treatment option, your healthcare team will discuss it with you. This may include surgery, radiotherapy, immunotherapy or chemotherapy.
Giving your permission (consent)
We want to involve you in decisions about your care and treatment. Your healthcare team will explain your treatment options.
If you decide to have electrochemotherapy, you will be asked to sign a consent form. This form says that you agree to have the treatment and understand what it involves.
You can withdraw your consent at any time, even if you have previously said yes to electrochemotherapy.
If you would like more information about giving your consent, please speak to a member of staff caring for you.
If you decide you do not want to have treatment, your healthcare team can give you support with this decision.
Side effects of electrochemotherapy
The side effects of electrochemotherapy are different to chemotherapy. This is because electrochemotherapy uses a lower dose of chemotherapy than other chemotherapy treatments. Serious side effects are not common.
You may have muscle cramps or twitching when the electrical pulse is being given. This will stop once the treatment ends.
If you have any pain after the treatment has stopped, speak to a member of staff caring for you. They can give you a painkiller to help. Contact your doctor if the pain increases and does not go away after taking medication.
You may have a mild fever after electrochemotherapy. Your healthcare team will give you medicine to help with this.
Other possible side effects include:
- skin changes, such as redness, a rash or ulcer
- changes to the colour of your skin
- flu like symptoms, such as aching
- feeling sick or being sick
- feeling breathless
If you feel breathless speak to your healthcare team immediately.
It’s rare, but the area where you have treatment may become infected. Look out for signs of an infection, such as:
- swelling and redness
- more pain than usual
- liquid (discharge) in or around the area
Get in touch with your healthcare team if you think you have an infection.