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Alternative Names Return to topTumor - metastatic pleural
Definition Return to top
Metastatic pleural tumor is a type of cancer that has spread from another organ to the thin membrane (pleura) surrounding the lungs.
Causes Return to top
The blood and lymph systems can carry cancer cells to other organs in the body, where they can produce new growths or tumors. The spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body occurs in 20-40% of patients who are dying of cancer.
Almost any type of cancer can spread to the lungs. Lung and breast cancers most commonly spread to the pleura. Ovarian cancer can spread there too.
Patients who have previously had cancer are at risk for developing metastatic pleural tumors if the cancer was not successfully treated. About 5 out of 10,000 people will get this cancer.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Treatment Return to top
Pleural tumors usually cannot be removed with surgery. The original (primary) cancer should be treated. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be appropriate, depending on the type of primary cancer.
Therapeutic thoracentesis may be done if the fluid collection is large and is causing pressure, shortness of breath, or other breathing problems (such as low oxygen levels). Removing the fluid can allow the lung to expand more, and can ease breathing difficulties.
To keep the fluid from building up again, sometimes medication will be placed in the chest space through a tube. Or, a surgeon can insert a scope through a small cut in the chest wall to remove the fluid (thorascopy). Then a medication or talc is sprayed over the lung surface to keep the cancer cells from creating more fluid in the future.
Support Groups Return to top
You can ease the stress of illness by joining a support group where members share common experiences and problems.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The 5-year survival rate (number of people who live for more than 5 years after diagnosis) is less than 25% for people with pleural tumors that have spread.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you experience symptoms of this disorder.
Prevention Return to top
Early detection and treatment of primary cancers may prevent metastatic pleural tumors in some individuals.
References Return to top
Husain AN, Kumar V. The lung. In: Kumar V, Abbas AK, Fausto N. Robbins and Cotran: Pathologic Basis of Disease. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2005:chap 15.
Shaw P, Agarwal R. Pleurodesis for malignant pleural effusions. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(1):CD002916.Update Date: 9/4/2008 Updated by: Sean O. Stitham, MD, private practice in Internal Medicine, Seattle, Washington; and James R. Mason, MD, Oncologist, Director, Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program and Stem Cell Processing Lab, Scripps Clinic, Torrey Pines, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.