Objective: To review our experience with bleomycin sclerotherapy as treatment of pleural effusions due to gynecologic malignancies.
Methods: Twenty-one women with histologically documented malignant effusions (16 ovarian carcinoma, three uterine sarcoma, and two cervical cancer) were treated with small flexible chest-tube drainage followed by intrapleural bleomycin sclerotherapy (60 units).
Results: After placement of the chest tube, suction was required for a median of 5 days (range 3-12) before output was low enough (less than 100 mL/24 hours) to instill bleomycin. Among 24 treated effusions, there was a 71% overall response rate, including ten complete responses (42%) and seven partial responses (29%); seven effusions (29%) did not respond to therapy. Six of the seven patients whose effusions did not respond to bleomycin died of disease within 2 months of attempted sclerotherapy. Fever was the most common side effect, occurring in 13 of 21 patients (62%) following instillation of bleomycin. Pain during sclerosis was reported by only two patients.
Conclusions: Bleomycin sclerotherapy after small flexible chest-tube drainage of malignant pleural effusions is an effective technique, with minimal adverse reactions, for controlling effusions that develop in women with gynecologic malignancies.