A pleural effusion is a term which is used to refer to the buildup of extra fluid in the pleural space which is the space between the lungs and the chest wall. Almost 50% of the people with lung cancer develop a pleural effusion and the cancer that grows in the pleural space results in malignant pleural effusion. It is a fact that more than 75% of patients with a malignant pleural effusion also have lymphoma or cancers of the lung, breast or ovary.
This condition is considered an indication of metastatic cancer which is a kind of cancer that spreads to other areas of the body. The following is some more information about pleural effusion.
Symptoms of Pleural Effusion
- One of the major symptoms of this condition is shortness of breath. Some may also experience dry cough as a sign.
- A feeling of heaviness in the chest is yet another indication of this problem.
- Some of the other symptoms of pleural effusion in lung cancer include inability to exercise, inability to lie flat, pain and general feeling of being unwell.
- One of the first ways to diagnose this condition is physical examination.
- Even a chest X-Ray can be done to test or show the levels of building of fluid.
- Another diagnosis method used to test this condition is computed tomography. This is an imaging test which creates a three dimensional picture of the inside of the body with an X-ray machine.
- Ultrasound is also another method of diagnosis which uses sound waves to create a picture of inside of the body.
- Another diagnosis method that is used is thoracentesis which is the removal and analysis of fluid from the pleural cavity with a needle.
- One of the ways to treat pleural effusion in lung cancer is to do tube thoracostomy which is a process that uses a tube inserted into the chest for about 24 hours to drain out fluid.
- Sometimes doctors also insert a small tube called catheter to drain out fluid into a bottle as directed or needed as a treatment for pleural effusion.
- Another way to treat this condition is to insert a shunt which is a device used to bypass or divert fluid from one place to another to drain excess of the fluid that gets built up.