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.

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
  • swelling
  • 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.

Resource number: 5357/VER1
Last reviewed: May 2023
Next review due: May 2026

A list of sources is available on request.

Trusted Information Creator. Patient Information Forum

Contact us

If you have any questions about electrochemotherapy, please contact:

Clinical nurse specialist
Phone: 020 7188 7188 extension 57618, Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm
Email: [email protected] (no cover on weekends or bank holidays)

Plastic surgery appointments (access team)
Phone: 020 7188 8882

Dermatology cancer helpline
For malignant melanoma: 020 7188 4901
For non-melanoma cancer: 020 7188 0041

Wound care

Dressing clinic:
Phone: 020 7188 7188 extension 54517, Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm
Email: [email protected]

Out-reach service
Phone: 07342 079 589
Email: [email protected]

Nurse team
Phone: 07917 087 937 Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm
Email: [email protected]

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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