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Pleural space
Pleural space


Definition:

Metastatic pleural tumor is a type of cancer that has spread from another organ to the thin membrane (pleura) surrounding the lungs.



Alternative Names:

Tumor - metastatic pleural



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

The blood and lymph systems can carry cancer cells to other organs in the body, where they can produce new growths or tumors. The spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body occurs in 20-40% of patients who are dying of cancer.

Almost any type of cancer can spread to the lungs. Lung and breast cancers most commonly spread to the pleura. Ovarian cancer can spread there too.

Patients who have previously had cancer are at risk for developing metastatic pleural tumors if the cancer was not successfully treated. About 5 out of 10,000 people will get this cancer.



Symptoms:

Treatment:

Pleural tumors usually cannot be removed with surgery. The original (primary) cancer should be treated. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be appropriate, depending on the type of primary cancer.

Therapeutic thoracentesis may be done if the fluid collection is large and is causing pressure, shortness of breath, or other breathing problems (such as low oxygen levels). Removing the fluid can allow the lung to expand more, and can ease breathing difficulties.

To keep the fluid from building up again, sometimes medication will be placed in the chest space through a tube. Or, a surgeon can insert a scope through a small cut in the chest wall to remove the fluid (thorascopy). Then a medication or talc is sprayed over the lung surface to keep the cancer cells from creating more fluid in the future.



Support Groups:

You can ease the stress of illness by joining a support group where members share common experiences and problems.

See:



Expectations (prognosis):

The 5-year survival rate (number of people who live for more than 5 years after diagnosis) is less than 25% for people with pleural tumors that have spread.



Complications:
  • Side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • Continued spread of cancer


Calling your health care provider:

Call your health care provider if you experience symptoms of this disorder.



Prevention:

Early detection and treatment of primary cancers may prevent metastatic pleural tumors in some individuals.



References:

Husain AN, Kumar V. The lung. In: Kumar V, Abbas AK, Fausto N. Robbins and Cotran: Pathologic Basis of Disease. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2005:chap 15.

Shaw P, Agarwal R. Pleurodesis for malignant pleural effusions. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(1):CD002916.




Review Date: 9/4/2008
Reviewed By: Sean O. Stitham, MD, private practice in Internal Medicine, Seattle, Washington; and James R. Mason, MD, Oncologist, Director, Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program and Stem Cell Processing Lab, Scripps Clinic, Torrey Pines, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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