Fluid Drainage Brings Symptom Relief for Mesothelioma Patients

The majority of mesothelioma patients polled say they could breathe easier after a procedure to remove excess lung fluid from their chest. The more fluid that was removed, the better they felt.

Those findings come from a new UK study of patient-reported outcome measures among 158 people suffering from malignant pleural mesothelioma.

Collecting Data from Mesothelioma Patients

The data that formed the basis of the study was collected as part of the patients’ routine clinical care for their pleural mesothelioma, a virulent cancer of the lining around the lungs. Evaluation tools were used that included two patient-reported scores on their level of improvement after specific mesothelioma treatments.

“Excluding diagnostic aspiration, the majority of patients (108/126, 85.7%) experienced symptomatic benefit from fluid drainage,” reports study author Ioannis Psallidas, MD, PhD, of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust in BMJ Open Respiratory Research.

On a 100 millimeter visual scale, patients reported a mean improvement in their mesothelioma symptoms equivalent to 42.6 millimeters after lung fluid removal. The researchers determined that there was a correlation between the amount of fluid removed and the level of symptom relief.

Lung Fluid and Mesothelioma Symptoms

The buildup of fluid in the pleural space around the lungs, also known as pleural effusion,  is the cause of some of the most uncomfortable and life-limiting symptoms of advanced pleural mesothelioma.

As fluid builds up, the lungs are compressed, leaving less space for expansion with each breath. Many mesothelioma patients complain of chronic shortness of breath (dyspnea) and chest pain. The inability to take a complete breath can lead to fatigue and dramatically reduce patients’ quality of life.

Pleural effusions can be drained with a needle but, because the procedure often needs to be repeated, some patients are fitted with a port that they can use to do periodic drainage on their own at home.

Considering Patient Feedback

While there are many objective ways to measure mesothelioma outcomes, the UK researchers say soliciting feedback from the patients themselves with the evaluation tool they developed may help clinicians refine and improve mesothelioma care.

“The outcomes defined have the potential to form the basis of a clinically useful tool to appraise the effect, compare the efficient and identify the importance of pleural interventions to the patients,” concludes the study summary.


Psallida, I, “Assessment of patient-reported outcome measures in pleural interventions”, July 3, 2017, BMJ Open Respiratory Research, eCollection 2017

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