The aim of this study is to investigate whether there was a considerable difference in the survival of patients with malignant pleural effusion (MPE) depending on the pleural effusion treatment option.
One hundred and seven patients with proven MPE (metastatic lung and breast cancer) were included in the retrospective study. Fifty six patients were treated with talc pleurodesis and a control group of 51 patients with similar characteristics (in age, sex and disease) were treated with serial thoracentesis. The patients of both groups underwent chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. The overall survival and the survival in subgroups of patients with different tumour types and different performance status (PS) equal 1, 2 and 3 were compared.
The patients who underwent talc pleurodesis had a longer average survival interval (MS) than the patients without such a treatment (n = 56; MS = 21,5 and n = 51; MS = 9 weeks, respectively; p < 0.001). The best results were achieved in patients with PS 1 (n = 16; MS = 35.5 and n = 10; MS = 11 weeks in the groups with and without talc pleurodesis, respectively; p < 0,001) and PS 2 (n = 27; MS = 21 and n = 30; MS = 10 weeks in the groups with and without talc pleurodesis, respectively; p < 0.001), whereas talc pleurodesis was not effective in PS 3 patients (n = 13; MS = 10 and n = 11; MS = 7 weeks in the groups with and without talc pleurodesis, respectively; p = 0.08). Patients with the breast cancer showed a longer average survival interval after pleurodesis than those with the lung cancer (n = 12; MS = 37.5 and n = 44; MS = 20 weeks in the group with the breast cancer and with the lung cancer, respectively; p < 0.001), whereas the median survival was not significantly different between those patients without pleurodesis (n = 10; MS = 10 and n = 41; MS = 9 weeks in the group with the breast cancer and lung cancer, respectively; p = 0.11).
The patients treated with talc pleurodesis had a significantly longer average survival than the patients without such a treatment, especially in the group with the breast cancer and in groups with better performance status. This may indicate that talc pleurodesis, apart from its symptomatic effect on the cessation of pleural effusion, may have a direct antitumour effect as well.