Amica Veterinaria Inteview Dr. Paola Valenti: Electrochemotherapy in Veterinary Oncology

by Oct 3, 2020News & Events


Dr. Paola Valenti works in Italy at the Veterinary Clinic Malpensa (Varese) and at the Veterinary Hospital of Portoni Rossi (Bologna).


Dear colleague, what is the subject  you have chosen for us?

“Today I want to talk to you about a new cutting-edge technique in tumor treatment: electrochemotherapy!”

What is electrochemotherapy?

“Electrochemotherapy (ECT) is a way of treating tumors that is based on the local application of electrical impulses that makes the cellular membrane of the tumor transiently permeable. This allows  the transport of chemotherapies inside the cell in quantities greater than those reached in the absence of the electrical impulse.  This method increases the effectiveness of the drug at the local level “.

So should an intravenous chemotherapy also be used?

Yes, just before applying the electrical impulses the chemotherapy is administered into the vein. This way it can then enter the cells. This technique uses lower doses of chemotherapeutics compared to standard protocols. In addition the systemic side effects on the patient are absent.

Can it be used on all tumors?


Not all but many …

The technique sees the following tumors as application fields:

Soft tissue sarcomas of dogs and cats, removed with infiltrated or non-removable surgical margins;

Cutaneous and oral skin melanomas;

Cutaneous carcinomas of dogs and cats removed with infiltrated or non-removable surgical margins;

Squamo cellular carcinomas of the cat’s skin (eyelids, nasal plane);

Mastocytomas removed with infiltrated margins;

Perianal tumors.

As you know, the correct diagnosis of the tumor and staging are always the basis from which to start in oncology. So before thinking about this therapy you need to know exactly which type of tumor your four legged companion has.

How is electrochemotherapy performed?

The patient is subjected to a brief anesthesia (the application of the impulses takes less than 5 minutes) because the patient has to remain standing still either (which is impossible if he felt an electrical discharge on the skin) and not feel the discomfort caused by the electrical impulse.

How many treatments have to be done and for how much time?

Treatment may be repeated over weeks or months to get regression or clinical stabilization of the present lesions. The number of treatments depends on the type of tumor and the objectives you want to get (cure or palliation).

What are the results and how much can the life expectancy increases? Are there opportunities for healing or is it a palliative cure?

There are some cancers that can be healed with this therapy, while in other cases it will only be a palliative cure. Your trusted oncologist, once he has gathered all the information, will be able to tell you what the real possibilities will be for your pet.

How much is the treatment?

The cost of treatment varies depending on the number of sessions needed to obtain a good result. You can go from relatively inexpensive protocols (spending less than 1.000,00 eur) to slightly more demanding protocols.

We would like to thank dr. Paola Valenti and the online magazine Amica Veterinaria for this contribution on veterinary electrochemotherapy.