Malignant pleural effusion is a complication that arises because of a disturbance in the procedure of re-absorption of fluids present in the pleural cavity (the serous cavity covering the lungs) caused by cancer. Excessive amounts of fluids accumulate in the cavity and this obstructs the expansion of lungs during normal breathing, thus making breathing difficult. The fluids that may accumulate in the pleural cavity causing malignant pleural effusion are blood, chile, pus and serous fluid (produced within the pleural membranes).
Malignant pleural effusion is detected by examining the patient’s chest x-ray and once pleural effusion is confirmed, its cause must be examined to prescribe appropriate treatment. A process known as thoracentesis is followed to obtain the pleural fluid from the pleural cavity which is then tested to classify the malignant pleural effusion as either transudate or exudates. The former type of malignant pleural effusion is caused because certain systemic factors have affected the formation and absorption of the pleural fluid, whereas the latter type is caused because certain local factors have altered it. Once this is known, the cause for malignant pleural effusion can be ascertained. Usually, transudative pleural effusion is caused due to left ventricular failure, pulmonary embolism and cirrhosis. Exudative pleural effusion is caused due to bacterial pneumonia, cancer, viral infection and pulmonary embolism. Tuberculosis, chest bleeding, rheumatoid arthritis or coronary bypass surgery might also cause this disease.
Malignant pleural effusion can be treated effectively and the cause behind it is known. Medicines and drugs such as diuretics and antibiotics might be able to treat a minor case. However, if serious, a chest tube, known as intercostals drain might need to be inserted into the chest cavity to remove the excess fluid. It is important not just to drain out the excess fluid, but also to prevent it from re-accumulating and for this purpose chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery or further chest medication may be employed.
It is important that medication or treatment for malignant pleural effusion be undertaken under extreme precautionary conditions, including careful handling of needles and other fluids, including body fluids. There are instances of HIV transmission from needles contaminated with pleural fluid and left untreated. The diagnosis and treatment of malignant pleural effusion must involve a thorough examination of the over-all health and also the expected survival figure of the patient. Immediate action must be taken once effusion is detected, however, if only symptoms occur without any conclusive evidence of malignant pleural effusion, a period of observation along with palliative therapy must ensue.
To provide malignant pleural effusion is a challenge on its own and the disease must be tended upon the moment it is diagnosed as ignoring the state of the disease will cause more harm and aggravate the rate of deterioration. Check with experts the moment diagnosis proves the malignance to be cancer and rush in for the recovery measures available followed by therapy sessions as the body might not only require recovery measures but also soothing attention to help reduce major pains.