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Pleural space
Pleural space


Metastatic pleural tumor

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 lungs.

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.

Your health care provider may recommend a procedure called thoracentesis if you have a lot of fluid collecting around your lungs and you have shortness of breath or low blood oxygen levels. This procedure removes the fluid and allows the lung to expand more, making it easier to breathe.

To prevent the fluid from collecting again, medication may be placed directly into your chest space through a tube, called a catheter. Or, your surgeon may spray a medication or talc on the lung surface during the procedure to remove the fluid surrounding your lungs.



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


Prevention:

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



References:

Ettinger DS. Lung cancer and other pulmonary neoplasms. In Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 201.

Juergens RA, Spira AI, Brahmer JR. Effusions. In: Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE, Kastan MB, McKenna WG. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2008:chap 60.




Review Date: 6/2/2010
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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