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BMJ Case Rep. 2013 Jan 22;2013. pii: bcr2012008196. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2012-008196.

Pleural tuberculosis following lung cancer chemotherapy: a report of two cases proven pathologically by pleural biopsy.

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Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh, India.


Malignancy per se and cytotoxic chemotherapy given for its treatment both are recognised risk factors for the development of tuberculosis (TB). However, individual case descriptions of pleural tuberculosis (TB-PE) following chemotherapy for lung cancer (LC) have not been published previously. We herein report the first two cases of histopathologically proven TB-PE following LC chemotherapy. The first patient was a 38-year-old man with stage IV non-small cell LC (adenocarcinoma) who developed TB-PE following four cycles of chemotherapy (pemetrexed-cisplatin). The second patient was a 49-year-old man with extensive disease small cell LC who developed TB-PE after six cycles of chemotherapy (irinotecan-cisplatin). In both patients, diagnosis of TB-PE was established by demonstration of granulomatous inflammation, caseous necrosis and positive stain for acid-fast bacilli in pleural biopsy specimens. Both cases responded to standard four-drug antitubercular therapy. These cases highlight the importance of carrying out an extensive evaluation for exudative pleural effusions in LC patients receiving chemotherapy, especially in countries with high TB prevalence. Attributing such pleural effusions to disease progression, without histopathological confirmation, may be associated with disastrous consequences.

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