Prognostic factors in patients presenting with pleural effusion revealing malignancy

Respiration. 2014;87(4):311-6. doi: 10.1159/000356764. Epub 2014 Jan 22.


Background: The survival of patients with malignant pleural effusion is considered generally poor. Most of the studies reporting results of prognostic factors are retrospective, using pleural thoracentesis for diagnosis. The objectives of our study were to reveal possible prognostic factors in patients initially presenting with undiagnosed pleural effusion proven to be malignant by diagnostic thoracoscopy.

Methods: Ninety consecutive patients, 48 of whom were male (53%), with a median age of 69 years (range 37-93) and a performance status (PS) of 0/1 (63%) and with initially undiagnosed pleural effusion that was proven to be malignant by thoracoscopy were evaluated. Survival time was defined as the time from thoracoscopic diagnosis to death or the last follow-up. A regression analysis was used to determine significant clinical and biological prognostic factors.

Results: Lung carcinoma (44.4%), breast carcinoma (24.4%), and mesothelioma (12.2%) were the most frequent tumors diagnosed. The median overall survival was 11 months (range 0.5-55). The survival of the patients was related to the following factors: histology of the primary tumor (p = 0.008), PS (p < 0.001), white blood cells (p = 0.018), and the blood neutrophil-to-lymphocyte (N/L) ratio (p = 0.002). Multiple regression showed PS, histology, and the N/L ratio.

Conclusion: The factors affecting survival in our patients were PS, primary tumor histology, and the N/L ratio. These factors may help physicians select patients for treatment and/or interventional procedures.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Greece / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / diagnosis*
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / mortality
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Thoracoscopy