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Int J Palliat Nurs. 2013 Jul;19(7):320, 322-5.

Malignant pleural effusion in the palliative care setting.

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University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7TE, England.


Malignant pleural effusion (MPE) is a distressing condition for the patient, causing many symptoms such as shortness of breath, dry cough, an uncomfortable feeling of heaviness in the chest, and pleuritic pain. MPE reduces quality of life and functional status. It indicates that the disease is now advanced and life expectancy is generally short, with a median prognosis of 3-12 months depending on the stage of the disease and the underlying malignancy. This paper discusses the palliative treatment options for MPE, which include thoracentesis, medical pleurodesis, and indwelling pleural catheter. It is important that decisions about treatment are made within the multidisciplinary team and alongside the patient and family. Treatment goals are concerned with the relief or elimination of dyspnoea, restoration of near-normal activity and function, and avoidance of inpatient care.

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