Treatment options for malignant pleural effusion

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Purpose of review

Thirty percent of lung cancers eventually result in malignant pleural effusion (MPE). Devastating consequences of MPE, such as dyspnea and cough, severely deteriorate the quality of life of these patients. Malignant pleural effusion portends a dismal prognosis of less than 6-month longevity, with the exception of breast and ovarian cancer. Given the poor prognosis of the majority of these patients, palliation, rather than cure, should be the goal of therapy.

Recent findings

Chest tube insertion and sclerotherapy remain the standard of care. Emerging therapeutic options such as medical pleuroscopy and indwelling pleural catheters offer cost-effective and outpatient treatments for MPE.


In the following review, the medical, economic, and social aspects of different current options for the management of MPE are discussed.

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