Metastatic pleural tumor

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Definition

Metastatic pleural tumor is a type of cancer that has spread from another organ to the thin membrane (pleura) surrounding the lungs.

Alternative Names

Tumor - metastatic pleural

Causes

The blood and lymph systems can carry cancer cells to other organs in the body. There, they can produce new growths or tumors.

Almost any type of cancer can spread to the lungs and involve the pleura.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include any of the following:

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will examine you and ask about your medical history and symptoms. Tests that may be done include:

Treatment

Pleural tumors usually can't be removed with surgery. The original (primary) cancer should be treated.

and may be used, depending on the type of primary cancer.

Your provider may recommend thoracentesis if you have a lot of fluid collecting around your lungs and you have shortness of breath or low blood oxygen levels. After the fluid is removed, your lung will be able to expand more. This allows you to breathe easier.

To prevent the fluid from collecting again, medicine may be placed directly into your chest space through a tube, called a catheter. Or, your surgeon may spray a medicine or talc on the lung surface during the procedure. This helps seal the space around your lungs to prevent the fluid from returning.

Support Groups

You can ease the stress of illness by joining a support group where members share common experiences and problems.

Outlook (Prognosis)

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 from other parts of the body.

Possible Complications

Health problems that may result include:

  • Side effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Continued spread of the cancer

Prevention

Early detection and treatment of primary cancers may prevent metastatic pleural tumors in some people.

References

Arenberg D, Pickens A. Metastatic malignant tumors. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 55.

Ripley RT, Rusch VW. Lung metastases. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 52.

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 5/20/2016
  • Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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