Video-assisted management of malignant pleural effusion in breast carcinoma

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BACKGROUND. Advanced breast carcinoma almost always leads to a malignant pleural effusion, conditioning the performance status of patients and consequently quality of life. The treatment of malignant pleural effusion should be a priority in the management of such patients. The results of videothoracoscopic approach (VATS) chemical pleurodesis was analyzed in patients with recurrent pleural effusion from breast carcinoma. METHODS. From October 1998 to June 2004, 71 consecutive patients with breast carcinoma-related pleural effusion were treated by the same thoracic-surgeon team with intracavitary nebulization of 8 g of asbestos-free sterilized talc via VATS. Multiple pleural biopsies were performed to determine biologic characteristics of recurrent disease. RESULTS. Talc pleurodesis was performed in all cases, with no intraoperative or postoperative complications. Median length of hospital stay was 5 days (range, 5-8). The overall success rate of the surgical procedure was 89% (confidence interval [CI], 79-95%) with a mean follow-up of 22 months (range, 2-81 mos). The overall survival time was 17 months (range, 2-80). Biopsies showed a switch on receptor status and c-erB-2 status from negative (primary tumor) to positive (pleural metastasis) in 11 (15%) patients. In another 7 (9.8%) patients, we obtained completely new information that was hitherto unknown. CONCLUSION. Talc pleurodesis via VATS is an effective and safe procedure that yields a high rate of success at the first attempt and achieves long-term control of malignant pleural effusion due to breast carcinoma. Concomitant biopsies performed during the VATS procedure were a determining factor in the subsequent decision-making process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-276
Number of pages6
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 15 2006


  • Breast carcinoma
  • Malignant pleural effusion
  • Video-assisted management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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