Recent Advances in the Diagnosis and Management of Malignant Pleural Effusions

Heffner, John E.; Klein, Jeffrey S.
February 2008
Mayo Clinic Proceedings;Feb2008, Vol. 83 Issue 2, p235
Academic Journal
Malignant pleural effusions (MPEs) are an Important complication for patients with Intrathoracic and extrathoracic malignancies. Median survival after diagnosis of an MPE is 4 months. Patients can present with an MPE as a complication of far-advanced cancer or as the initial manifestation of an underlying malignancy. Common cancer types causing MPEs Include lymphomas, mesothellomas, and carcinomas of the breast, lung, gastrointestinal tract, and ovaries. However, almost all tumor types have been reported to cause MPEs. New imaging modalities assist the evaluation of patients with a suspected MPE; however, positive cytologic or tissue confirmation of malignant cells is necessary to establish a diagnosis. Even In the presence of known malignancy, up to 50% of pleural effusions are benign, underscoring the Importance of a firm diagnosis to guide therapy. Rapidly evolving interventional and histopathologic techniques have improved the diagnostic yield of standard cytology and biopsy. Management of an MPE remains palliative; It is critical that the appropriate management approach is chosen on the basis of available expertise and the patient's clinical status. This review summarizes the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and management of MPE. Studies in the English language were identified by searching the MEDLINE database (1980-2007) using the search terms pleura, pleural, malignant, pleurodesis, and thoracoscopy.


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