Pleural effusion in lung cancer

Clin Chest Med. 1993 Mar;14(1):189-200.


Pleural effusions are common in the setting of lung cancer. A pleural effusion associated with lung cancer is an ominous finding, but a small percentage of patients are candidates for curative surgery. The clinician must establish whether the effusion is malignant, excluding the possibility of curative surgery; paramalignant, which may or may not exclude surgery; or whether it is unassociated with cancer. When a malignant pleural effusion is diagnosed, the clinician must decide on the most appropriate form of palliation for the symptomatic patient. In the symptomatic patient with a reasonable life expectancy and pleural fluid pH of more than 7.3, chemical pleurodesis appears to be the most effective and least morbid therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / complications*
  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Adenocarcinoma / secondary
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / complications*
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / diagnostic imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / complications*
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / chemistry
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / etiology
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / pathology*
  • Pleural Effusion, Malignant / therapy*
  • Pleural Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Radiography