Pleural effusion is one of the most common symptoms faced by patients with malignant mesothelioma. It is a painful, difficulty breathing caused by an accumulation of fluid between the layers of organs around the lungs. The more fluid builds up, the harder and more painful it is to inhale. A recent study conducted by researchers in Taiwan and Hong Kong assessed the two approaches most frequently used for providing patients with relief, and determined that though both treatments are effective, one may lead to shorter hospital stays.
Talc Pleurodesis vs. Indwelling Pleural Catheter for Mesothelioma Symptom Treatment
Pleural effusion occurs in several types of cancer, including malignant mesothelioma. There are two different treatment options available to treat this painful condition, and researchers led by Dr. Maggie Yeung of the University of Hong Kong set out to compare the two to determine whether one was superior to the other.
Talc pleurodesis involves inserting medical grade talc into the space between the pleural layers in order to trigger the creation of scar tissue. This effectively and permanently eliminates the space where fluid can build up. Alternatively, patients can be outfitted with an indwelling pleural catheter (IPC), a tube inserted in the chest through which fluid can be drained by the patient whenever it builds up. In their report published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Metastasis, the researchers assessed the outcomes of each of the approaches.
Previous Research Identified Better Outcomes from IPC
Prior to this research, studies had already indicated that IPC offered patients with pleural effusions a better quality of life than talc pleurodesis, but the mesothelioma study also found that patients provided this therapy enjoyed shorter hospital stays. Beyond this difference, the two approaches yielded essentially identical clinical outcomes in terms of relieving symptoms.
In assessing the outcomes of the 500 patients assessed, Dr. Yeung wrote, “The number of hospital inpatient days was significantly lower among patients who were treated with IPC than among those who were treated with TP.” Though the group concluded that the difference was of “uncertain clinical importance,” for patients facing an uncertain future and shortened life span, each day out of the hospital is important.
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