A malignant pleural effusion is the build-up of fluid and cancer cells that collects between the chest wall and the lung. This can cause you to feel short of breath and/or have chest discomfort. It is a fairly common complication in several different types of cancer, though it can also occur in people who do not have cancer.
If you have been diagnosed with an MPE, talk to your healthcare team about all of your treatment options and which one is right for you. There is no one right answer for everyone, and your decision will be based on many factors, including the type of cancer you have, the stage of your cancer, your overall health, and your personal preferences. No matter what treatment you choose, palliative care can help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
Symptoms of a pleural effusion can vary depending on the individual, but can generally be summed up as chest pain, shortness of breath, and a general feeling of unwellness. If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to tell your health care team so they can help relieve them. Palliative or supportive care is an important part of cancer treatment and can help people feel better regardless of their stage of cancer.
If your healthcare provider suspects you have an MPE, they will likely order one or more imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis and measure how much fluid is present. The most common tests used are a chest X-ray, CT scan of the chest, and ultrasound of the chest. Each of these tests provides different information about the condition and can help your healthcare provider determine the best course of treatment.
Treatment for MPE typically includes draining the fluid from the chest cavity and chemotherapy or radiation therapy to kill the cancer cells. If left untreated, MPE can lead to respiratory failure and death. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for the best possible outcome. Treatment for an MPE will vary depending on underlying cancer. However, common treatments include: