Know About Pleural Effusion in Lung Cancer

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.

know about pleural effusion in lung cancer

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.