Malignant ascites: systematic review and guideline for treatment

Eur J Cancer. 2006 Mar;42(5):589-97. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2005.11.018. Epub 2006 Jan 24.


A guideline on the management of symptomatic malignant ascites by abdominal paracentesis, diuretics and peritoneovenous shunting, based on a systematic review of the literature is presented. Thirty-two relevant studies were identified. None were randomized control trials, one was a non-randomized open controlled trial, five were cohort studies or prospective uncontrolled trials, 26 studies were non-analytic studies like case series. Although paracentesis, diuretics and shunting are commonly used procedures, the evidence is weak. Available data show good, although temporary effect of paracentesis on symptom relief. Fluid withdrawal speed and concurrent intravenous hydration is not sufficiently studied. Peritoneovenous shunts can control ascites in patients with malignant ascites, but have to be balanced by the potential risks of this procedure. The available data about diuretics in treatment of malignant ascites are controversial. The use of diuretics therefore should be considered in all patients, but has to be evaluated individually.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Ascites / etiology
  • Ascites / therapy*
  • Diuretics / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Paracentesis / methods*
  • Peritoneovenous Shunt / methods*


  • Diuretics