References for Electrical Stimulation and Cancer


American Cancer Society: Non-Medical Treatments for Pain

The American Cancer Society references the potential benefits of TENS for pain management. TENS is a type of electrical stimulation used for pain management. It delivers electrical pulses to the body via electrodes, similar to NMES but with different parameters that are not adjustable.

The Lancet Oncology journal: Electrotherapy: Enlightening Modern Medicine

The authors, Hills and Stebbing provide a nice review of the work done in using electrical stimulation to treat cancer and the following is a direct excerpt from their article:

“The technique involves the use of electrical fields, delivered through a non-invasive transducer array patch placed directly on the skin above the tumour, to alternate tumour cell polarity, thereby causing the physical disruption of the cell membrane and apoptosis. The treatment is delivered through a non-invasive, insulated transducer array patch. Electrical current is not delivered directly to the tissue, but the patch generates an artificial and alternating electric field within the tumour. The results of a trial in patients with treatment-resistant brain tumours showed a better quality of life and a lower frequency of side-effects in individuals receiving tumour-treating-fields therapy than in those receiving chemotherapy, serving as the basis for FDA approval for the treatment of recurrent glioblastoma multiforme in 2011. Another study of the efficacy of low-frequency low-intensity electrotherapy in the treatment of breast-cancer-related arm swelling (lymphoedema) also showed that despite no significant changes in lymphoedema volume, there was significant reduction in pain, heaviness, and tightness, further showing that electrotherapy could at least be used to improve a patient’s quality of life.”

Additional references:

  1. Baldwin, E. R. L., Baldwin, T. D., Lancaster, J. S., McNeely, M. L., & Collins, D. F. (2012). Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation and Exercise for Reducing Trapezius Muscle Dysfunction in Survivors of Head and Neck Cancer: A Case-Series Report. Physiotherapy Canada64(3), 317–324.
  2. Windholz T, Swanson T, Vanderbyl BL, Jagoe RT. The feasibility and acceptability of neuromuscular electrical stimulation to improve exercise performance in patients with advanced cancer: a pilot study. BMC Palliat Care.2014 May 1;13:23. doi: 10.1186/1472-684X-13-23. eCollection 2014. Erratum in: BMC Palliat Care. 2014;13:33. PubMed PMID: 24808760; PubMed Central PMCID:PMC4012222.
  3. Lacouture ME, Davis ME, Elzinga G, Butowski N, Tran D, Villano JL, DiMeglio L,Davies AM, Wong ET. Characterization and management of dermatologic adverse events with the NovoTTF-100A System, a novel anti-mitotic electric field device for the treatment of recurrent glioblastoma. Semin Oncol. 2014 Jun;41 Suppl 4:S1-14. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2014.03.011. Epub 2014 Mar 19. PubMed PMID:24794308.
  4. Bhatt AD, Goodwin N, Cash E, Bhatt G, Silverman CL, Spanos WJ, Bumpous JM.
  5. Potts K, Redman R, Allison WA, Dunlap NE. Impact of transcutaneous neuromuscular electrical stimulation on dysphagia in patients with head and neck cancer treated with definitive chemoradiation. Head Neck. 2015 Jul;37(7):1051-6. doi: 10.1002/hed.23708. Epub 2015 Apr 6. PubMed PMID: 24710791.
  6. Loh J, Gulati A. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation for treatment of sarcoma cancer pain. Pain Manag. 2013 May;3(3):189-99. doi: 10.2217/pmt.13.15. PubMed PMID: 24654762.
  7. Kulsh J. Low-level electric current and cancer--a promising, but languishing non-toxic cancer therapy. Explore (NY). 2014 Jan-Feb;10(1):53-4. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2013.10.004. Epub 2013 Oct 17. PubMed PMID: 24439096.
  8. Charest-Hallée, S., & Léonard, G. (2013). Electrical Stimulation for Reducing Trapezius Muscle Dysfunction in Cancer Patients: Traditional Treatment Protocols Also Work.Physiotherapy Canada65(4), 401–403. http://doi.org/10.3138/ptc.2013-38
  9. Shawki MM, Farid A. Low electric field parameters required to induce death of cancer cells. Electromagn Biol Med. 2014 Jun;33(2):159-63. doi: 10.3109/15368378.2013.800105. Epub 2013 Jun 3. PubMed PMID: 23730818.
  10. Baldwin ER, Baldwin TD, Lancaster JS, McNeely ML, Collins DF. Neuromuscular electrical stimulation and exercise for reducing trapezius muscle dysfunction in survivors of head and neck cancer: a case-series report. Physiother Can. 2012Summer;64(3):317-24. doi: 10.3138/ptc.2011-23O. PubMed PMID: 23729969; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3396583.
  11. Davies AM, Weinberg U, Palti Y. Tumor treating fields: a new frontier in cancer therapy. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2013 Jul;1291:86-95. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12112. Epub 2013 May 9. Review. PubMed PMID: 23659608.
  12. Loh J, Gulati A. The use of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)in a major cancer center for the treatment of severe cancer-related pain and associated disability. Pain Med. 2015 Jun;16(6):1204-10. doi: 10.1111/pme.12038. Epub 2013 Feb 25. PubMed PMID: 23438255.
  13. Kirson ED, Giladi M, Gurvich Z, Itzhaki A, Mordechovich D, Schneiderman RS, Wasserman Y, Ryffel B, Goldsher D, Palti Y. Alternating electric fields (TTFields) inhibit metastatic spread of solid tumors to the lungs. Clin Exp
  14. Metastasis. 2009;26(7):633-40. doi: 10.1007/s10585-009-9262-y. Epub 2009 Apr 23. PubMed PMID: 19387848; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2776150.
  15. Salzberg M, Kirson E, Palti Y, Rochlitz C. A pilot study with very low-intensity, intermediate-frequency electric fields in patients with locally advanced and/or metastatic solid tumors. Onkologie. 2008 Jul;31(7):362-5. doi: 10.1159/000137713. Epub 2008 Jun 24. PubMed PMID: 18596382.
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