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Journal Details
Format
Journal
eISSN
1581-3207
First Published
30 Apr 2007
Publication timeframe
4 times per year
Languages
English

Search

Volume 50 (2016): Issue 1 (March 2016)

Journal Details
Format
Journal
eISSN
1581-3207
First Published
30 Apr 2007
Publication timeframe
4 times per year
Languages
English

Search

15 Articles

Review

Open Access

Medical physics in Europe following recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 64 - 72

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Medical physics is a health profession where principles of applied physics are mostly directed towards the application of ionizing radiation in medicine. The key role of the medical physics expert in safe and effective use of ionizing radiation in medicine was widely recognized in recent European reference documents like the European Union Council Directive 2013/59/EURATOM (2014), and European Commission Radiation Protection No. 174, European Guidelines on Medical Physics Expert (2014). Also the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been outspoken in supporting and fostering the status of medical physics in radiation medicine through multiple initiatives as technical and cooperation projects and important documents like IAEA Human Health Series No. 25, Roles and Responsibilities, and Education and Training Requirements for Clinically Qualified Medical Physicists (2013) and the International Basic Safety Standards, General Safety Requirements Part 3 (2014). The significance of these documents and the recognition of the present insufficient fulfilment of the requirements and recommendations in many European countries have led the IAEA to organize in 2015 the Regional Meeting on Medical Physics in Europe, where major issues in medical physics in Europe were discussed. Most important outcomes of the meeting were the recommendations addressed to European member states and the survey on medical physics status in Europe conducted by the IAEA and European Federation of Organizations for Medical Physics.

Conclusions

Published recommendations of IAEA Regional Meeting on Medical Physics in Europe shall be followed and enforced in all European states. Appropriate qualification framework including education, clinical specialization, certification and registration of medical physicists shall be established and international recommendation regarding staffing levels in the field of medical physics shall be fulfilled in particular. European states have clear legal and moral responsibility to effectively transpose Basic Safety Standards into national legislation in order to ensure high quality and safety in patient healthcare.

Key words

  • medical physics
  • Europe
  • International Atomic Energy Agency
  • recommendations
  • basic safety standards
Open Access

Recommendations for improving the quality of reporting clinical electrochemotherapy studies based on qualitative systematic review

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 1 - 13

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Electrochemotherapy is becoming a well-established treatment for malignancies of skin and non-skin origin and its use is widening across Europe. The technique was developed and optimized from solid experimental and clinical evidence. A consensus document is now warranted to formalize reporting results, which should strengthen evidence-based practice recommendations. This consensus should be derived from high quality clinical data collection, clinical expertise and summarizing patient feedback. The first step, which is addressed in this paper, aims to critically analyze the quality of published studies and to provide the recommendations for reporting clinical trials on electrochemotherapy.

Methods

The quality of reporting in published studies on electrochemotherapy was analyzed in order to produce procedure specific reporting recommendations. A comprehensive literature search of studies published from 2006 to 2015 was performed followed by qualitative analysis of manuscripts assessing for 47 quality criteria grouped into four major clusters: (1) trial design, (2) description of patient population, (3) description of treatment delivery and patient outcome, (4) analysis of results and their interpretation. The summary measure during literature assessment was the proportion of studies fulfilling each manuscript quality criteria.

Results

A total of 56 studies were screened, from the period 2006 to 2015, of which 33 were included in the qualitative analysis, with a total of 1215 patients. Overall, the quality of reporting was highly variable. Twenty-four reports (73%) were single-center, non-comparative studies, and only 15 (45%) were prospective in nature (only 2 of them were entered into a clinical trials registry). Electrochemotherapy technique was consistently reported, with most studies (31/33) adhering closely to published standard operating procedures. The quality of reporting the patient population was variable among the analyzed studies, with only between 45% and 100% achieving dedicated quality criteria. Reporting of treatment delivery and patient outcome was also highly variable with studies only fulfilling between 3% and 100%. Finally, reporting study results critically varied, fulfilling from 27% to 100% of the quality criteria. Based on the critical issues emerging from this analysis, recommendations and minimal requirements for reporting clinical data on electrochemotherapy were prepared and summarized into a checklist.

Conclusions

There is an increasing body of published clinical data on electrochemotherapy, but more high quality clinical data are needed. Published papers often lack accurate description of study population, treatment delivery as well as patient outcome. Our recommendations, provided in the form of a summary checklist, are intended to ameliorate data reporting in future studies on electrochemotherapy and help researchers to provide a solid evidence basis for clinical practice.

Keywords

  • electrochemotherapy
  • clinical trials
  • recommendations
Open Access

Electrochemotherapy in pancreatic adenocarcinoma treatment: pre-clinical and clinical studies

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 14 - 20

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is currently one of the deadliest cancers with high mortality rate. This disease leads to an aggressive local invasion and early metastases, and is poorly responsive to treatment with chemotherapy or chemo-radiotherapy. Radical resection is still the only curative treatment for pancreatic cancer, but it is generally accepted that a multimodality strategy is necessary for its management. Therefore, new alternative therapies have been considered for local treatment.

Conclusions

Chemotherapeutic resistance in pancreatic cancer is associated to a low penetration of drugs into tumour cells due to the presence of fibrotic stroma surrounding cells. In order to increase the uptake of chemotherapeutic drugs into tumour cells, electrochemotherapy can be used for treatment of pancreatic adenocarcinoma leading to an increased tumour response rate. This review will summarize the published papers reported in literature on the efficacy and safety of electrochemotherapy in pre-clinical and clinical studies on pancreatic cancer.

Key words

  • electrochemotherapy
  • pancreatic carcinoma
  • bleomycin
  • pre-clinical study
  • clinical study
  • safety
  • efficacy

Research Article

Open Access

Obstructive urination problems after high-dose-rate brachytherapy boost treatment for prostate cancer are avoidable

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 94 - 103

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Aiming at improving treatment individualization in patients with prostate cancer treated with combination of external beam radiotherapy and high-dose-rate brachytherapy to boost the dose to prostate (HDRB-B), the objective was to evaluate factors that have potential impact on obstructive urination problems (OUP) after HDRB-B.

Patients and methods

In the follow-up study 88 patients consecutively treated with HDRB-B at the Institute of Oncology Ljubljana in the period 2006-2011 were included. The observed outcome was deterioration of OUP (DOUP) during the follow-up period longer than 1 year. Univariate and multivariate relationship analysis between DOUP and potential risk factors (treatment factors, patients’ characteristics) was carried out by using binary logistic regression. ROC curve was constructed on predicted values and the area under the curve (AUC) calculated to assess the performance of the multivariate model.

Results

Analysis was carried out on 71 patients who completed 3 years of follow-up. DOUP was noted in 13/71 (18.3%) of them. The results of multivariate analysis showed statistically significant relationship between DOUP and anti-coagulation treatment (OR 4.86, 95% C.I. limits: 1.21-19.61, p = 0.026). Also minimal dose received by 90% of the urethra volume was close to statistical significance (OR = 1.23; 95% C.I. limits: 0.98-1.07, p = 0.099). The value of AUC was 0.755.

Conclusions

The study emphasized the relationship between DOUP and anticoagulation treatment, and suggested the multivariate model with fair predictive performance. This model potentially enables a reduction of DOUP after HDRB-B. It supports the belief that further research should be focused on urethral sphincter as a critical structure for OUP.

Key words

  • prostate cancer
  • high-dose-rate brachytherapy boost
  • late effects
  • urinary stricture
  • obstructive urination problems
Open Access

Prognostic factors of choroidal melanoma in Slovenia, 1986–2008

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 104 - 112

Abstract

AbstractIntroduction

Choroidal melanoma is the most common primary malignancy of the eye, which frequently metastasizes. The Cancer Registry of Slovenia reported the incidence of choroid melanoma from 1983 to 2009 as stable, at 7.8 cases/million for men and 7.4/million for women. The aim of the retrospective study was to determinate the prognostic factors of survival for choroidal melanoma patients in Slovenia.

Patients and methods

From January 1986 to December 2008 we treated 288 patients with malignant choroidal melanoma; 127 patients were treated by brachytherapy with beta rays emitting ruthenium-106 applicators; 161 patients were treated by enucleation.

Results

Patients with tumours thickness < 7.2 mm and base diameter < 16 mm were treated by brachytherapy and had 5- and 10-year overall mortality 13% and 32%, respectively. In enucleated patients, 5- and 10-year mortality was higher, 46% and 69%, respectively, because their tumours were larger. Thirty patients treated by brachytherapy developed local recurrence. Twenty five of 127 patients treated by brachytherapy and 86 of 161 enucleated patients developed distant metastases. Patients of age ≥ 60 years had significantly lower survival in both treatment modalities. For patients treated by brachytherapy the diameter of the tumour base and treatment time were independent prognostic factors for overall survival, for patients treated by enucleation age and histological type of tumour were independent prognosticators. In first few years after either of treatments, the melanoma specific annual mortality rate increased, especially in older patients, and then slowly decreased.

Conclusions

It seems that particularly younger patients with early tumours can be cured, whereby preference should be given to eyesight preserving brachytherapy over enucleation.

Keywords

  • choroid melanoma
  • therapy
  • brachytherapy
  • prognostic factors
Open Access

The impact of anaemia on treatment outcome in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of anal canal and anal margin

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 113 - 120

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Radiochemotherapy is the main treatment for patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the anal canal. Anaemia is reported to have adverse effect on survival in cancer patients. The aim of the study was to evaluate the influence of anaemia on radiochemotherapy treatment outcome in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the anal canal.

Patients and methods

One hundred consecutive patients with histologically confirmed squamous cell carcinoma of the anal canal were treated radically with 3-dimensional conformal or intensity-modulated radiation therapy followed by brachytherapy or external beam radiotherapy boost and with concurrent mitomycin C and 5-fluorouracil. The influence on survival of pre-treatment, mean on-treatment and end-of-treatment haemoglobin (Hb) concentrations was studied.

Results

The 5-year locoregional control, disease free survival, disease specific survival and overall survival rates for all patients were 72%, 71%, 77% and 62%, respectively. In univariate analysis, patients with pre-treatment and end-of-treatment Hb > 120 g/L survived statistically significantly better compared to patients with Hb ≤ 120 g/L. Patients with mean on-treatment Hb > 120 g/L only had statistically significant better locoregional control and overall survival than patients with Hb ≤ 120 g/L. In multivariate analysis, independent prognostic factors were pre-treatment Hb (> 120 g/L vs. ≤ 120 g/L) for overall survival (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.419, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.190–0.927, p = 0.032) and stage (I & II vs. III) for disease specific (HR = 3.523, 95% CI = 1.375–9.026, p = 0.009) and overall survival (HR = 2.230, 95% CI = 1.167–4.264, p = 0.015).

Conclusions

The pre-treatment, mean on-treatment and end-of-treatment Hb concentration > 120 g/L carried better prognosis for patients for with squamous cell carcinoma of the anal canal treated with radiochemotherapy. The pre-treatment Hb > 120 g/L was an independent prognostic factor for overall survival of patients with anal canal cancer.

Keywords

  • anaemia
  • anal canal squamous cell carcinoma
  • radiochemotherapy
Open Access

Evaluation of dosimetric effect caused by slowing with multi-leaf collimator (MLC) leaves for volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT)

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 121 - 128

Abstract

AbstractBackground

This study is to report 1) the sensitivity of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) QA method for clinical volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) plans with multi-leaf collimator (MLC) leaf errors that will not trigger MLC interlock during beam delivery; 2) the effect of non-beam-hold MLC leaf errors on the quality of VMAT plan dose delivery.

Materials and methods.

Eleven VMAT plans were selected and modified using an in-house developed software. For each control point of a VMAT arc, MLC leaves with the highest speed (1.87-1.95 cm/s) were set to move at the maximal allowable speed (2.3 cm/s), which resulted in a leaf position difference of less than 2 mm. The modified plans were considered as ‘standard’ plans, and the original plans were treated as the ‘slowing MLC’ plans for simulating ‘standard’ plans with leaves moving at relatively lower speed. The measurement of each ‘slowing MLC’ plan using MapCHECK®2 was compared with calculated planar dose of the ‘standard’ plan with respect to absolute dose Van Dyk distance-to-agreement (DTA) comparisons using 3%/3 mm and 2%/2 mm criteria.

Results

All ‘slowing MLC’ plans passed the 90% pass rate threshold using 3%/3 mm criteria while one brain and three anal VMAT cases were below 90% with 2%/2 mm criteria. For ten out of eleven cases, DVH comparisons between ‘standard’ and ‘slowing MLC’ plans demonstrated minimal dosimetric changes in targets and organs-at-risk.

Conclusions

For highly modulated VMAT plans, pass rate threshold (90%) using 3%/3mm criteria is not sensitive in detecting MLC leaf errors that will not trigger the MLC leaf interlock. However, the consequential effects of non-beam hold MLC errors on target and OAR doses are negligible, which supports the reliability of current patient-specific IMRT quality assurance (QA) method for VMAT plans.

Key words

  • VMAT
  • MLC
  • MapCHECK2
  • quality assurance
  • DVH
Open Access

Diagnostic accuracy of MRI to evaluate tumour response and residual tumour size after neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer patients

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 73 - 79

Abstract

AbstractBackground

The aim, of the study was to estimate the accuracy of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in assessing residual disease in breast cancer patients receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) and to identify the clinico-pathological factors that affect the diagnostic accuracy of breast MRI to determine residual tumour size following NAC.

Patients and methods

91 breast cancer patients undergoing NAC (92 breast lesions) were included in the study. Breast MRI was performed at baseline and after completion of NAC. Treatment response was evaluated by MRI and histopathological examination to investigate the ability of MRI to predict tumour response. Residual tumour size was measured on post-treatment MRI and compared with pathology in 89 lesions. Clinicopathological factors were analyzed to compare MRI-pathologic size differences.

Results

The overall sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy for diagnosing invasive residual disease by using MRI were 75.00%, 78.57%, 88.89%, 57.89%, and 76.09% respectively. The Pearson’s correlation coefficient (r) between tumour sizes determined by MRI and pathology was r = 0.648 (p < 0.001). The size discrepancy was significantly lower in cancers with initial MRI size ≤ 5 cm (p = 0.050), in cancers with high tumour grade (p < 0.001), and in patients with hormonal receptor-negative cancer (p = 0.033).

Conclusions

MRI is an accurate tool for evaluating tumour response after NAC. The accuracy of MRI in estimating residual tumour size varies with the baseline MRI tumour size, the tumour grade and the hormonal receptor status.

Keywords

  • breast cancer
  • MRI
  • residual tumour
  • neoadjuvant chemotherapy
Open Access

Antioxidant defence-related genetic variants are not associated with higher risk of secondary thyroid cancer after treatment of malignancy in childhood or adolescence

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 80 - 86

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Thyroid cancer is one of the most common secondary cancers after treatment of malignancy in childhood or adolescence. Thyroid gland is very sensitive to the carcinogenic effect of ionizing radiation, especially in children. Imbalance between pro- and anti-oxidant factors may play a role in thyroid carcinogenesis. Our study aimed to assess the relationship between genetic variability of antioxidant defence-related genes and the risk of secondary thyroid cancer after treatment of malignancy in childhood or adolescence.

Patients and methods

In a retrospective study, we compared patients with childhood or adolescence primary malignancy between 1960 and 2006 that developed a secondary thyroid cancer (cases) with patients (controls), with the same primary malignancy but did not develop any secondary cancer. They were matched for age, gender, primary diagnosis and treatment (especially radiotherapy) of primary malignancy. They were all genotyped for SOD2 p.Ala16Val, CAT c.-262C>T, GPX1 p.Pro200Leu, GSTP1 p.Ile105Val, GSTP1 p.Ala114Val and GSTM1 and GSTT1 deletions. The influence of polymorphisms on occurrence of secondary cancer was examined by McNemar test and Cox proportional hazards model.

Results

Between 1960 and 2006 a total of 2641 patients were diagnosed with primary malignancy before the age of 21 years in Slovenia. Among them 155 developed a secondary cancer, 28 of which were secondary thyroid cancers. No significant differences in the genotype frequency distribution were observed between cases and controls. Additionally we observed no significant influence of investigated polymorphisms on time to the development of secondary thyroid cancer.

Conclusions

We observed no association of polymorphisms in antioxidant genes with the risk for secondary thyroid cancer after treatment of malignancy in childhood or adolescence. However, thyroid cancer is one of the most common secondary cancers in patients treated for malignancy in childhood or adolescence and the lifelong follow up of these patients is of utmost importance.

Keywords

  • secondary thyroid cancer
  • antioxidant genes
  • genetic polymorphism
Open Access

Effectiveness of electrochemotherapy after IFN-α adjuvant therapy of melanoma patients

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 21 - 27

Abstract

AbstractBackground

The combination of electrochemotherapy with immuno-modulatory treatments has already been explored and proven effective. However, the role of interferon alpha (IFN-α) adjuvant therapy of melanoma patients and implication on electrochemotherapy effectiveness has not been explored yet. Therefore, the aim of the study was to retrospectively evaluate the effectiveness and safety of electrochemotherapy after the previous adjuvant treatment with IFN-α in melanoma patients.

Patients and methods

The study was a retrospective single-center observational analysis of the patients with advanced melanoma, treated with electrochemotherapy after previous IFN-α adjuvant therapy. Five patients, treated between January 2008 and December 2014, were included into the study, regardless of the time point of IFN-α adjuvant therapy.

Results

Electrochemotherapy of recurrent melanoma after the IFN-α adjuvant therapy proved to be a safe and effective treatment. Patients with one or two metastases responded completely. Among patients with multiple metastases, there was a variable response rate. In one patient all 23 metastases responded completely, in second patient more than 85% of all together 80 metastases responded completely and in third patient all 5 metastases had partial response. Taking into account all metastases from all patients together there was an 85% complete response rate.

Conclusions

The study showed that electrochemotherapy of recurrent melanoma after the IFN-α adjuvant therapy is a safe and effective treatment modality, which results in a high complete response rate, not only in single metastasis, but also in multiple metastases. The high complete response rate might be due to an IFN-α immune-editing effect, however, further studies with a larger number of patients are needed to support this presumption.

Keywords

  • electrochemotherapy
  • melanoma
  • IFN-α
Open Access

A statistical model describing combined irreversible electroporation and electroporation-induced blood-brain barrier disruption

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 28 - 38

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Electroporation-based therapies such as electrochemotherapy (ECT) and irreversible electroporation (IRE) are emerging as promising tools for treatment of tumors. When applied to the brain, electroporation can also induce transient blood-brain-barrier (BBB) disruption in volumes extending beyond IRE, thus enabling efficient drug penetration. The main objective of this study was to develop a statistical model predicting cell death and BBB disruption induced by electroporation. This model can be used for individual treatment planning.

Material and methods

Cell death and BBB disruption models were developed based on the Peleg-Fermi model in combination with numerical models of the electric field. The model calculates the electric field thresholds for cell kill and BBB disruption and describes the dependence on the number of treatment pulses. The model was validated using in vivo experimental data consisting of rats brains MRIs post electroporation treatments.

Results

Linear regression analysis confirmed that the model described the IRE and BBB disruption volumes as a function of treatment pulses number (r2 = 0.79; p < 0.008, r2 = 0.91; p < 0.001). The results presented a strong plateau effect as the pulse number increased. The ratio between complete cell death and no cell death thresholds was relatively narrow (between 0.88-0.91) even for small numbers of pulses and depended weakly on the number of pulses. For BBB disruption, the ratio increased with the number of pulses. BBB disruption radii were on average 67% ± 11% larger than IRE volumes.

Conclusions

The statistical model can be used to describe the dependence of treatment-effects on the number of pulses independent of the experimental setup.

Keywords

  • electroporarion
  • blood brain barrier
  • Peleg-Fermi
Open Access

Electrochemotherapy by pulsed electromagnetic field treatment (PEMF) in mouse melanoma B16F10 in vivo

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 39 - 48

Abstract

AbstractIntroduction

Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) induces pulsed electric field, which presumably increases membrane permeabilization of the exposed cells, similar to the conventional electroporation. Thus, contactless PEMF could represent a promising approach for drug delivery.

Materials and methods

Noninvasive electroporation was performed by magnetic field pulse generator connected to an applicator consisting of round coil. Subcutaneous mouse B16F10 melanoma tumors were treated with intravenously injection of cisplatin (CDDP) (4 mg/kg), PEMF (480 bipolar pulses, at frequency of 80 Hz, pulse duration of 340 μs) or with the combination of both therapies (electrochemotherapy − PEMF + CDDP). Antitumor effectiveness of treatments was evaluated by tumor growth delay assay. In addition, the platinum (Pt) uptake in tumors and serum, as well as Pt bound to the DNA in the cells and Pt in the extracellular fraction were measured by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry.

Results

The antitumor effectiveness of electrochemotherapy with CDDP mediated by PEMF was comparable to the conventional electrochemotherapy with CDDP, with the induction of 2.3 days and 3.0 days tumor growth delay, respectively. The exposure of tumors to PEMF only, had no effect on tumor growth, as well as the injection of CDDP only. The antitumor effect in combined treatment was related to increased drug uptake into the electroporated tumor cells, demonstrated by increased amount of Pt bound to the DNA. Approximately 2-fold increase in cellular uptake of Pt was measured.

Conclusions

The obtained results in mouse melanoma model in vivo demonstrate the possible use of PEMF induced electroporation for biomedical applications, such as electrochemotherapy. The main advantages of electroporation mediated by PEMF are contactless and painless application, as well as effective electroporation compared to conventional electroporation.

Keywords

  • pulsed electromagnetic field
  • bipolar pulses
  • contactless electroporation
  • CDDP
  • electrochemotherapy
  • platinum determination
  • mouse melanoma
Open Access

A prototype of a flexible grid electrode to treat widespread superficial tumors by means of Electrochemotherapy

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 49 - 57

Abstract

AbstractBackground

In recent years, superficial chest wall recurrence from breast cancer can be effectively treated by means of electrochemotherapy, with the majority of patients achieving response to treatment. Nevertheless, tumor spread along superficial lymphatic vessels makes this peculiar type of tumor recurrence prone to involve large skin areas and difficult to treat. In these cases, electroporation with standard, small size needle electrodes can be time-consuming and produce an inhomogeneous coverage of the target area, ultimately resulting in patient under treatment.

Materials and methods

Authors designed and developed a prototype of a flexible grid electrode aimed at the treatment of large skin surfaces and manufactured a connection box to link the pulse applicator to a voltage pulse generator. Laboratory tests on potato tissue were performed in order to evaluate the electroporation effect, which was evaluated by observing color change of treated tissue.

Results

A device has been designed in order to treat chest wall recurrences from breast cancer. According to preliminary tests, the new flexible support of the electrode allows the adaptability to the surface to be treated. Moreover, the designed devices can be useful to treat a larger surface in 2–5 minutes.

Conclusions

Authors developed the prototype of a new pulse applicator aimed at the treatment of widespread superficial tumors. This flexible grid needle electrode was successfully tested on potato tissue and produced an electroporation effect. From a clinical point of view, the development of this device may shorten electrochemotherapy procedure thus allowing clinicians to administer electric pulses at the time of maximum tumor exposure to drugs. Moreover, since the treatment time is 2–5 min long, it could also reduce the time of anesthesia, thus improving patient recovery.

Key words

  • electrochemotherapy
  • electrode
  • flexible support
  • breast cancer recurrence
Open Access

Combined local and systemic bleomycin administration in electrochemotherapy to reduce the number of treatment sessions

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 58 - 63

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Electrochemotherapy (ECT), a medical treatment widely used in human patients for tumor treatment, increases bleomycin toxicity by 1000 fold in the treated area with an objective response rate of around 80%. Despite its high response rate, there are still 20% of cases in which the patients are not responding. This could be ascribed to the fact that bleomycin, when administered systemically, is not reaching the whole tumor mass properly because of the characteristics of tumor vascularization, in which case local administration could cover areas that are unreachable by systemic administration.

Patients and methods

We propose combined bleomycin administration, both systemic and local, using companion animals as models. We selected 22 canine patients which failed to achieve a complete response after an ECT treatment session. Eleven underwent another standard ECT session (control group), while 11 received a combined local and systemic administration of bleomycin in the second treatment session.

Results

According to the WHO criteria, the response rates in the combined administration group were: complete response (CR) 54% (6), partial response (PR) 36% (4), stable disease (SD) 10% (1). In the control group, these were: CR 0% (0), PR 19% (2), SD 63% (7), progressive disease (PD) 18% (2). In the combined group 91% objective responses (CR+PR) were obtained. In the control group 19% objective responses were obtained. The difference in the response rate between the treatment groups was significant (p < 0.01).

Conclusions

Combined local and systemic bleomycin administration was effective in previously to ECT non responding canine patients. The results indicate that this approach could be useful and effective in specific population of patients and reduce the number of treatment sessions needed to obtain an objective response.

Keywords

  • electrochemotherapy
  • combined treatment
  • systemic and local
  • bleomycin
  • resistant

Case Report

Open Access

Cerebral toxoplasmosis in a diffuse large B cell lymphoma patient

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 87 - 93

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Toxoplasmosis is an opportunistic protozoal infection that has, until now, probably been an underestimated cause of encephalitis in patients with hematological malignancies, independent of stem cell or bone marrow transplant. T and B cell depleting regimens are probably an important risk factor for reactivation of a latent toxoplasma infection in these patients.

Case report

We describe a 62-year-old HIV-negative right-handed Caucasian female with systemic diffuse large B cell lymphoma who presented with sudden onset of high fever, headache, altered mental status, ataxia and findings of pancytopenia, a few days after receiving her final, 8th cycle of rituximab, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, doxorubicin, prednisolone (R-CHOP) chemotherapy regimen. A progression of lymphoma to the central nervous system was suspected. MRI of the head revealed multiple on T2 and fluid attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) hyperintense parenchymal lesions with mild surrounding edema, located in both cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres that demonstrated moderate gadolinium enhancement. The polymerase chain reaction on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF PCR) was positive for Toxoplasma gondii. The patient was diagnosed with toxoplasmic encephalitis and successfully treated with sulfadiazine, pyrimethamine and folic acid. Due to the need for maintenance therapy with rituximab for lymphoma remission, the patient now continues with secondary prophylaxis of toxoplasmosis.

Conclusions

With this case report, we wish to emphasize the need to consider cerebral toxoplasmosis in patients with hematological malignancies on immunosuppressive therapy when presenting with new neurologic deficits. In such patients, there are numerous differential diagnoses for cerebral toxoplasmosis, and the CNS lymphoma is the most difficult among all to distinguish it from. If left untreated, cerebral toxoplasmosis has a high mortality rate; therefore early recognition and treatment are of essential importance.

Key words

  • toxoplasmosis
  • cerebral
  • lymphoma, B-cell
  • rituximab
  • hosts, immunocompromised
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • treatment
15 Articles

Review

Open Access

Medical physics in Europe following recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 64 - 72

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Medical physics is a health profession where principles of applied physics are mostly directed towards the application of ionizing radiation in medicine. The key role of the medical physics expert in safe and effective use of ionizing radiation in medicine was widely recognized in recent European reference documents like the European Union Council Directive 2013/59/EURATOM (2014), and European Commission Radiation Protection No. 174, European Guidelines on Medical Physics Expert (2014). Also the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been outspoken in supporting and fostering the status of medical physics in radiation medicine through multiple initiatives as technical and cooperation projects and important documents like IAEA Human Health Series No. 25, Roles and Responsibilities, and Education and Training Requirements for Clinically Qualified Medical Physicists (2013) and the International Basic Safety Standards, General Safety Requirements Part 3 (2014). The significance of these documents and the recognition of the present insufficient fulfilment of the requirements and recommendations in many European countries have led the IAEA to organize in 2015 the Regional Meeting on Medical Physics in Europe, where major issues in medical physics in Europe were discussed. Most important outcomes of the meeting were the recommendations addressed to European member states and the survey on medical physics status in Europe conducted by the IAEA and European Federation of Organizations for Medical Physics.

Conclusions

Published recommendations of IAEA Regional Meeting on Medical Physics in Europe shall be followed and enforced in all European states. Appropriate qualification framework including education, clinical specialization, certification and registration of medical physicists shall be established and international recommendation regarding staffing levels in the field of medical physics shall be fulfilled in particular. European states have clear legal and moral responsibility to effectively transpose Basic Safety Standards into national legislation in order to ensure high quality and safety in patient healthcare.

Key words

  • medical physics
  • Europe
  • International Atomic Energy Agency
  • recommendations
  • basic safety standards
Open Access

Recommendations for improving the quality of reporting clinical electrochemotherapy studies based on qualitative systematic review

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 1 - 13

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Electrochemotherapy is becoming a well-established treatment for malignancies of skin and non-skin origin and its use is widening across Europe. The technique was developed and optimized from solid experimental and clinical evidence. A consensus document is now warranted to formalize reporting results, which should strengthen evidence-based practice recommendations. This consensus should be derived from high quality clinical data collection, clinical expertise and summarizing patient feedback. The first step, which is addressed in this paper, aims to critically analyze the quality of published studies and to provide the recommendations for reporting clinical trials on electrochemotherapy.

Methods

The quality of reporting in published studies on electrochemotherapy was analyzed in order to produce procedure specific reporting recommendations. A comprehensive literature search of studies published from 2006 to 2015 was performed followed by qualitative analysis of manuscripts assessing for 47 quality criteria grouped into four major clusters: (1) trial design, (2) description of patient population, (3) description of treatment delivery and patient outcome, (4) analysis of results and their interpretation. The summary measure during literature assessment was the proportion of studies fulfilling each manuscript quality criteria.

Results

A total of 56 studies were screened, from the period 2006 to 2015, of which 33 were included in the qualitative analysis, with a total of 1215 patients. Overall, the quality of reporting was highly variable. Twenty-four reports (73%) were single-center, non-comparative studies, and only 15 (45%) were prospective in nature (only 2 of them were entered into a clinical trials registry). Electrochemotherapy technique was consistently reported, with most studies (31/33) adhering closely to published standard operating procedures. The quality of reporting the patient population was variable among the analyzed studies, with only between 45% and 100% achieving dedicated quality criteria. Reporting of treatment delivery and patient outcome was also highly variable with studies only fulfilling between 3% and 100%. Finally, reporting study results critically varied, fulfilling from 27% to 100% of the quality criteria. Based on the critical issues emerging from this analysis, recommendations and minimal requirements for reporting clinical data on electrochemotherapy were prepared and summarized into a checklist.

Conclusions

There is an increasing body of published clinical data on electrochemotherapy, but more high quality clinical data are needed. Published papers often lack accurate description of study population, treatment delivery as well as patient outcome. Our recommendations, provided in the form of a summary checklist, are intended to ameliorate data reporting in future studies on electrochemotherapy and help researchers to provide a solid evidence basis for clinical practice.

Keywords

  • electrochemotherapy
  • clinical trials
  • recommendations
Open Access

Electrochemotherapy in pancreatic adenocarcinoma treatment: pre-clinical and clinical studies

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 14 - 20

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is currently one of the deadliest cancers with high mortality rate. This disease leads to an aggressive local invasion and early metastases, and is poorly responsive to treatment with chemotherapy or chemo-radiotherapy. Radical resection is still the only curative treatment for pancreatic cancer, but it is generally accepted that a multimodality strategy is necessary for its management. Therefore, new alternative therapies have been considered for local treatment.

Conclusions

Chemotherapeutic resistance in pancreatic cancer is associated to a low penetration of drugs into tumour cells due to the presence of fibrotic stroma surrounding cells. In order to increase the uptake of chemotherapeutic drugs into tumour cells, electrochemotherapy can be used for treatment of pancreatic adenocarcinoma leading to an increased tumour response rate. This review will summarize the published papers reported in literature on the efficacy and safety of electrochemotherapy in pre-clinical and clinical studies on pancreatic cancer.

Key words

  • electrochemotherapy
  • pancreatic carcinoma
  • bleomycin
  • pre-clinical study
  • clinical study
  • safety
  • efficacy

Research Article

Open Access

Obstructive urination problems after high-dose-rate brachytherapy boost treatment for prostate cancer are avoidable

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 94 - 103

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Aiming at improving treatment individualization in patients with prostate cancer treated with combination of external beam radiotherapy and high-dose-rate brachytherapy to boost the dose to prostate (HDRB-B), the objective was to evaluate factors that have potential impact on obstructive urination problems (OUP) after HDRB-B.

Patients and methods

In the follow-up study 88 patients consecutively treated with HDRB-B at the Institute of Oncology Ljubljana in the period 2006-2011 were included. The observed outcome was deterioration of OUP (DOUP) during the follow-up period longer than 1 year. Univariate and multivariate relationship analysis between DOUP and potential risk factors (treatment factors, patients’ characteristics) was carried out by using binary logistic regression. ROC curve was constructed on predicted values and the area under the curve (AUC) calculated to assess the performance of the multivariate model.

Results

Analysis was carried out on 71 patients who completed 3 years of follow-up. DOUP was noted in 13/71 (18.3%) of them. The results of multivariate analysis showed statistically significant relationship between DOUP and anti-coagulation treatment (OR 4.86, 95% C.I. limits: 1.21-19.61, p = 0.026). Also minimal dose received by 90% of the urethra volume was close to statistical significance (OR = 1.23; 95% C.I. limits: 0.98-1.07, p = 0.099). The value of AUC was 0.755.

Conclusions

The study emphasized the relationship between DOUP and anticoagulation treatment, and suggested the multivariate model with fair predictive performance. This model potentially enables a reduction of DOUP after HDRB-B. It supports the belief that further research should be focused on urethral sphincter as a critical structure for OUP.

Key words

  • prostate cancer
  • high-dose-rate brachytherapy boost
  • late effects
  • urinary stricture
  • obstructive urination problems
Open Access

Prognostic factors of choroidal melanoma in Slovenia, 1986–2008

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 104 - 112

Abstract

AbstractIntroduction

Choroidal melanoma is the most common primary malignancy of the eye, which frequently metastasizes. The Cancer Registry of Slovenia reported the incidence of choroid melanoma from 1983 to 2009 as stable, at 7.8 cases/million for men and 7.4/million for women. The aim of the retrospective study was to determinate the prognostic factors of survival for choroidal melanoma patients in Slovenia.

Patients and methods

From January 1986 to December 2008 we treated 288 patients with malignant choroidal melanoma; 127 patients were treated by brachytherapy with beta rays emitting ruthenium-106 applicators; 161 patients were treated by enucleation.

Results

Patients with tumours thickness < 7.2 mm and base diameter < 16 mm were treated by brachytherapy and had 5- and 10-year overall mortality 13% and 32%, respectively. In enucleated patients, 5- and 10-year mortality was higher, 46% and 69%, respectively, because their tumours were larger. Thirty patients treated by brachytherapy developed local recurrence. Twenty five of 127 patients treated by brachytherapy and 86 of 161 enucleated patients developed distant metastases. Patients of age ≥ 60 years had significantly lower survival in both treatment modalities. For patients treated by brachytherapy the diameter of the tumour base and treatment time were independent prognostic factors for overall survival, for patients treated by enucleation age and histological type of tumour were independent prognosticators. In first few years after either of treatments, the melanoma specific annual mortality rate increased, especially in older patients, and then slowly decreased.

Conclusions

It seems that particularly younger patients with early tumours can be cured, whereby preference should be given to eyesight preserving brachytherapy over enucleation.

Keywords

  • choroid melanoma
  • therapy
  • brachytherapy
  • prognostic factors
Open Access

The impact of anaemia on treatment outcome in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of anal canal and anal margin

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 113 - 120

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Radiochemotherapy is the main treatment for patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the anal canal. Anaemia is reported to have adverse effect on survival in cancer patients. The aim of the study was to evaluate the influence of anaemia on radiochemotherapy treatment outcome in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the anal canal.

Patients and methods

One hundred consecutive patients with histologically confirmed squamous cell carcinoma of the anal canal were treated radically with 3-dimensional conformal or intensity-modulated radiation therapy followed by brachytherapy or external beam radiotherapy boost and with concurrent mitomycin C and 5-fluorouracil. The influence on survival of pre-treatment, mean on-treatment and end-of-treatment haemoglobin (Hb) concentrations was studied.

Results

The 5-year locoregional control, disease free survival, disease specific survival and overall survival rates for all patients were 72%, 71%, 77% and 62%, respectively. In univariate analysis, patients with pre-treatment and end-of-treatment Hb > 120 g/L survived statistically significantly better compared to patients with Hb ≤ 120 g/L. Patients with mean on-treatment Hb > 120 g/L only had statistically significant better locoregional control and overall survival than patients with Hb ≤ 120 g/L. In multivariate analysis, independent prognostic factors were pre-treatment Hb (> 120 g/L vs. ≤ 120 g/L) for overall survival (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.419, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.190–0.927, p = 0.032) and stage (I & II vs. III) for disease specific (HR = 3.523, 95% CI = 1.375–9.026, p = 0.009) and overall survival (HR = 2.230, 95% CI = 1.167–4.264, p = 0.015).

Conclusions

The pre-treatment, mean on-treatment and end-of-treatment Hb concentration > 120 g/L carried better prognosis for patients for with squamous cell carcinoma of the anal canal treated with radiochemotherapy. The pre-treatment Hb > 120 g/L was an independent prognostic factor for overall survival of patients with anal canal cancer.

Keywords

  • anaemia
  • anal canal squamous cell carcinoma
  • radiochemotherapy
Open Access

Evaluation of dosimetric effect caused by slowing with multi-leaf collimator (MLC) leaves for volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT)

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 121 - 128

Abstract

AbstractBackground

This study is to report 1) the sensitivity of intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) QA method for clinical volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) plans with multi-leaf collimator (MLC) leaf errors that will not trigger MLC interlock during beam delivery; 2) the effect of non-beam-hold MLC leaf errors on the quality of VMAT plan dose delivery.

Materials and methods.

Eleven VMAT plans were selected and modified using an in-house developed software. For each control point of a VMAT arc, MLC leaves with the highest speed (1.87-1.95 cm/s) were set to move at the maximal allowable speed (2.3 cm/s), which resulted in a leaf position difference of less than 2 mm. The modified plans were considered as ‘standard’ plans, and the original plans were treated as the ‘slowing MLC’ plans for simulating ‘standard’ plans with leaves moving at relatively lower speed. The measurement of each ‘slowing MLC’ plan using MapCHECK®2 was compared with calculated planar dose of the ‘standard’ plan with respect to absolute dose Van Dyk distance-to-agreement (DTA) comparisons using 3%/3 mm and 2%/2 mm criteria.

Results

All ‘slowing MLC’ plans passed the 90% pass rate threshold using 3%/3 mm criteria while one brain and three anal VMAT cases were below 90% with 2%/2 mm criteria. For ten out of eleven cases, DVH comparisons between ‘standard’ and ‘slowing MLC’ plans demonstrated minimal dosimetric changes in targets and organs-at-risk.

Conclusions

For highly modulated VMAT plans, pass rate threshold (90%) using 3%/3mm criteria is not sensitive in detecting MLC leaf errors that will not trigger the MLC leaf interlock. However, the consequential effects of non-beam hold MLC errors on target and OAR doses are negligible, which supports the reliability of current patient-specific IMRT quality assurance (QA) method for VMAT plans.

Key words

  • VMAT
  • MLC
  • MapCHECK2
  • quality assurance
  • DVH
Open Access

Diagnostic accuracy of MRI to evaluate tumour response and residual tumour size after neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer patients

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 73 - 79

Abstract

AbstractBackground

The aim, of the study was to estimate the accuracy of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in assessing residual disease in breast cancer patients receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) and to identify the clinico-pathological factors that affect the diagnostic accuracy of breast MRI to determine residual tumour size following NAC.

Patients and methods

91 breast cancer patients undergoing NAC (92 breast lesions) were included in the study. Breast MRI was performed at baseline and after completion of NAC. Treatment response was evaluated by MRI and histopathological examination to investigate the ability of MRI to predict tumour response. Residual tumour size was measured on post-treatment MRI and compared with pathology in 89 lesions. Clinicopathological factors were analyzed to compare MRI-pathologic size differences.

Results

The overall sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy for diagnosing invasive residual disease by using MRI were 75.00%, 78.57%, 88.89%, 57.89%, and 76.09% respectively. The Pearson’s correlation coefficient (r) between tumour sizes determined by MRI and pathology was r = 0.648 (p < 0.001). The size discrepancy was significantly lower in cancers with initial MRI size ≤ 5 cm (p = 0.050), in cancers with high tumour grade (p < 0.001), and in patients with hormonal receptor-negative cancer (p = 0.033).

Conclusions

MRI is an accurate tool for evaluating tumour response after NAC. The accuracy of MRI in estimating residual tumour size varies with the baseline MRI tumour size, the tumour grade and the hormonal receptor status.

Keywords

  • breast cancer
  • MRI
  • residual tumour
  • neoadjuvant chemotherapy
Open Access

Antioxidant defence-related genetic variants are not associated with higher risk of secondary thyroid cancer after treatment of malignancy in childhood or adolescence

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 80 - 86

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Thyroid cancer is one of the most common secondary cancers after treatment of malignancy in childhood or adolescence. Thyroid gland is very sensitive to the carcinogenic effect of ionizing radiation, especially in children. Imbalance between pro- and anti-oxidant factors may play a role in thyroid carcinogenesis. Our study aimed to assess the relationship between genetic variability of antioxidant defence-related genes and the risk of secondary thyroid cancer after treatment of malignancy in childhood or adolescence.

Patients and methods

In a retrospective study, we compared patients with childhood or adolescence primary malignancy between 1960 and 2006 that developed a secondary thyroid cancer (cases) with patients (controls), with the same primary malignancy but did not develop any secondary cancer. They were matched for age, gender, primary diagnosis and treatment (especially radiotherapy) of primary malignancy. They were all genotyped for SOD2 p.Ala16Val, CAT c.-262C>T, GPX1 p.Pro200Leu, GSTP1 p.Ile105Val, GSTP1 p.Ala114Val and GSTM1 and GSTT1 deletions. The influence of polymorphisms on occurrence of secondary cancer was examined by McNemar test and Cox proportional hazards model.

Results

Between 1960 and 2006 a total of 2641 patients were diagnosed with primary malignancy before the age of 21 years in Slovenia. Among them 155 developed a secondary cancer, 28 of which were secondary thyroid cancers. No significant differences in the genotype frequency distribution were observed between cases and controls. Additionally we observed no significant influence of investigated polymorphisms on time to the development of secondary thyroid cancer.

Conclusions

We observed no association of polymorphisms in antioxidant genes with the risk for secondary thyroid cancer after treatment of malignancy in childhood or adolescence. However, thyroid cancer is one of the most common secondary cancers in patients treated for malignancy in childhood or adolescence and the lifelong follow up of these patients is of utmost importance.

Keywords

  • secondary thyroid cancer
  • antioxidant genes
  • genetic polymorphism
Open Access

Effectiveness of electrochemotherapy after IFN-α adjuvant therapy of melanoma patients

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 21 - 27

Abstract

AbstractBackground

The combination of electrochemotherapy with immuno-modulatory treatments has already been explored and proven effective. However, the role of interferon alpha (IFN-α) adjuvant therapy of melanoma patients and implication on electrochemotherapy effectiveness has not been explored yet. Therefore, the aim of the study was to retrospectively evaluate the effectiveness and safety of electrochemotherapy after the previous adjuvant treatment with IFN-α in melanoma patients.

Patients and methods

The study was a retrospective single-center observational analysis of the patients with advanced melanoma, treated with electrochemotherapy after previous IFN-α adjuvant therapy. Five patients, treated between January 2008 and December 2014, were included into the study, regardless of the time point of IFN-α adjuvant therapy.

Results

Electrochemotherapy of recurrent melanoma after the IFN-α adjuvant therapy proved to be a safe and effective treatment. Patients with one or two metastases responded completely. Among patients with multiple metastases, there was a variable response rate. In one patient all 23 metastases responded completely, in second patient more than 85% of all together 80 metastases responded completely and in third patient all 5 metastases had partial response. Taking into account all metastases from all patients together there was an 85% complete response rate.

Conclusions

The study showed that electrochemotherapy of recurrent melanoma after the IFN-α adjuvant therapy is a safe and effective treatment modality, which results in a high complete response rate, not only in single metastasis, but also in multiple metastases. The high complete response rate might be due to an IFN-α immune-editing effect, however, further studies with a larger number of patients are needed to support this presumption.

Keywords

  • electrochemotherapy
  • melanoma
  • IFN-α
Open Access

A statistical model describing combined irreversible electroporation and electroporation-induced blood-brain barrier disruption

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 28 - 38

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Electroporation-based therapies such as electrochemotherapy (ECT) and irreversible electroporation (IRE) are emerging as promising tools for treatment of tumors. When applied to the brain, electroporation can also induce transient blood-brain-barrier (BBB) disruption in volumes extending beyond IRE, thus enabling efficient drug penetration. The main objective of this study was to develop a statistical model predicting cell death and BBB disruption induced by electroporation. This model can be used for individual treatment planning.

Material and methods

Cell death and BBB disruption models were developed based on the Peleg-Fermi model in combination with numerical models of the electric field. The model calculates the electric field thresholds for cell kill and BBB disruption and describes the dependence on the number of treatment pulses. The model was validated using in vivo experimental data consisting of rats brains MRIs post electroporation treatments.

Results

Linear regression analysis confirmed that the model described the IRE and BBB disruption volumes as a function of treatment pulses number (r2 = 0.79; p < 0.008, r2 = 0.91; p < 0.001). The results presented a strong plateau effect as the pulse number increased. The ratio between complete cell death and no cell death thresholds was relatively narrow (between 0.88-0.91) even for small numbers of pulses and depended weakly on the number of pulses. For BBB disruption, the ratio increased with the number of pulses. BBB disruption radii were on average 67% ± 11% larger than IRE volumes.

Conclusions

The statistical model can be used to describe the dependence of treatment-effects on the number of pulses independent of the experimental setup.

Keywords

  • electroporarion
  • blood brain barrier
  • Peleg-Fermi
Open Access

Electrochemotherapy by pulsed electromagnetic field treatment (PEMF) in mouse melanoma B16F10 in vivo

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 39 - 48

Abstract

AbstractIntroduction

Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) induces pulsed electric field, which presumably increases membrane permeabilization of the exposed cells, similar to the conventional electroporation. Thus, contactless PEMF could represent a promising approach for drug delivery.

Materials and methods

Noninvasive electroporation was performed by magnetic field pulse generator connected to an applicator consisting of round coil. Subcutaneous mouse B16F10 melanoma tumors were treated with intravenously injection of cisplatin (CDDP) (4 mg/kg), PEMF (480 bipolar pulses, at frequency of 80 Hz, pulse duration of 340 μs) or with the combination of both therapies (electrochemotherapy − PEMF + CDDP). Antitumor effectiveness of treatments was evaluated by tumor growth delay assay. In addition, the platinum (Pt) uptake in tumors and serum, as well as Pt bound to the DNA in the cells and Pt in the extracellular fraction were measured by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry.

Results

The antitumor effectiveness of electrochemotherapy with CDDP mediated by PEMF was comparable to the conventional electrochemotherapy with CDDP, with the induction of 2.3 days and 3.0 days tumor growth delay, respectively. The exposure of tumors to PEMF only, had no effect on tumor growth, as well as the injection of CDDP only. The antitumor effect in combined treatment was related to increased drug uptake into the electroporated tumor cells, demonstrated by increased amount of Pt bound to the DNA. Approximately 2-fold increase in cellular uptake of Pt was measured.

Conclusions

The obtained results in mouse melanoma model in vivo demonstrate the possible use of PEMF induced electroporation for biomedical applications, such as electrochemotherapy. The main advantages of electroporation mediated by PEMF are contactless and painless application, as well as effective electroporation compared to conventional electroporation.

Keywords

  • pulsed electromagnetic field
  • bipolar pulses
  • contactless electroporation
  • CDDP
  • electrochemotherapy
  • platinum determination
  • mouse melanoma
Open Access

A prototype of a flexible grid electrode to treat widespread superficial tumors by means of Electrochemotherapy

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 49 - 57

Abstract

AbstractBackground

In recent years, superficial chest wall recurrence from breast cancer can be effectively treated by means of electrochemotherapy, with the majority of patients achieving response to treatment. Nevertheless, tumor spread along superficial lymphatic vessels makes this peculiar type of tumor recurrence prone to involve large skin areas and difficult to treat. In these cases, electroporation with standard, small size needle electrodes can be time-consuming and produce an inhomogeneous coverage of the target area, ultimately resulting in patient under treatment.

Materials and methods

Authors designed and developed a prototype of a flexible grid electrode aimed at the treatment of large skin surfaces and manufactured a connection box to link the pulse applicator to a voltage pulse generator. Laboratory tests on potato tissue were performed in order to evaluate the electroporation effect, which was evaluated by observing color change of treated tissue.

Results

A device has been designed in order to treat chest wall recurrences from breast cancer. According to preliminary tests, the new flexible support of the electrode allows the adaptability to the surface to be treated. Moreover, the designed devices can be useful to treat a larger surface in 2–5 minutes.

Conclusions

Authors developed the prototype of a new pulse applicator aimed at the treatment of widespread superficial tumors. This flexible grid needle electrode was successfully tested on potato tissue and produced an electroporation effect. From a clinical point of view, the development of this device may shorten electrochemotherapy procedure thus allowing clinicians to administer electric pulses at the time of maximum tumor exposure to drugs. Moreover, since the treatment time is 2–5 min long, it could also reduce the time of anesthesia, thus improving patient recovery.

Key words

  • electrochemotherapy
  • electrode
  • flexible support
  • breast cancer recurrence
Open Access

Combined local and systemic bleomycin administration in electrochemotherapy to reduce the number of treatment sessions

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 58 - 63

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Electrochemotherapy (ECT), a medical treatment widely used in human patients for tumor treatment, increases bleomycin toxicity by 1000 fold in the treated area with an objective response rate of around 80%. Despite its high response rate, there are still 20% of cases in which the patients are not responding. This could be ascribed to the fact that bleomycin, when administered systemically, is not reaching the whole tumor mass properly because of the characteristics of tumor vascularization, in which case local administration could cover areas that are unreachable by systemic administration.

Patients and methods

We propose combined bleomycin administration, both systemic and local, using companion animals as models. We selected 22 canine patients which failed to achieve a complete response after an ECT treatment session. Eleven underwent another standard ECT session (control group), while 11 received a combined local and systemic administration of bleomycin in the second treatment session.

Results

According to the WHO criteria, the response rates in the combined administration group were: complete response (CR) 54% (6), partial response (PR) 36% (4), stable disease (SD) 10% (1). In the control group, these were: CR 0% (0), PR 19% (2), SD 63% (7), progressive disease (PD) 18% (2). In the combined group 91% objective responses (CR+PR) were obtained. In the control group 19% objective responses were obtained. The difference in the response rate between the treatment groups was significant (p < 0.01).

Conclusions

Combined local and systemic bleomycin administration was effective in previously to ECT non responding canine patients. The results indicate that this approach could be useful and effective in specific population of patients and reduce the number of treatment sessions needed to obtain an objective response.

Keywords

  • electrochemotherapy
  • combined treatment
  • systemic and local
  • bleomycin
  • resistant

Case Report

Open Access

Cerebral toxoplasmosis in a diffuse large B cell lymphoma patient

Published Online: 16 Feb 2016
Page range: 87 - 93

Abstract

AbstractBackground

Toxoplasmosis is an opportunistic protozoal infection that has, until now, probably been an underestimated cause of encephalitis in patients with hematological malignancies, independent of stem cell or bone marrow transplant. T and B cell depleting regimens are probably an important risk factor for reactivation of a latent toxoplasma infection in these patients.

Case report

We describe a 62-year-old HIV-negative right-handed Caucasian female with systemic diffuse large B cell lymphoma who presented with sudden onset of high fever, headache, altered mental status, ataxia and findings of pancytopenia, a few days after receiving her final, 8th cycle of rituximab, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, doxorubicin, prednisolone (R-CHOP) chemotherapy regimen. A progression of lymphoma to the central nervous system was suspected. MRI of the head revealed multiple on T2 and fluid attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) hyperintense parenchymal lesions with mild surrounding edema, located in both cerebral and cerebellar hemispheres that demonstrated moderate gadolinium enhancement. The polymerase chain reaction on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF PCR) was positive for Toxoplasma gondii. The patient was diagnosed with toxoplasmic encephalitis and successfully treated with sulfadiazine, pyrimethamine and folic acid. Due to the need for maintenance therapy with rituximab for lymphoma remission, the patient now continues with secondary prophylaxis of toxoplasmosis.

Conclusions

With this case report, we wish to emphasize the need to consider cerebral toxoplasmosis in patients with hematological malignancies on immunosuppressive therapy when presenting with new neurologic deficits. In such patients, there are numerous differential diagnoses for cerebral toxoplasmosis, and the CNS lymphoma is the most difficult among all to distinguish it from. If left untreated, cerebral toxoplasmosis has a high mortality rate; therefore early recognition and treatment are of essential importance.

Key words

  • toxoplasmosis
  • cerebral
  • lymphoma, B-cell
  • rituximab
  • hosts, immunocompromised
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • treatment

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