The current aetiology of malignant pleural effusion in the Western Cape Province, South Africa

Koegelenberg, C. F. N. ; Bennji, S. M. ; Boer, E. ; Schubert, P. T. ; Shaw, J. A. ; Allwood, Brian W. ; Irusen, E. M. (2018-04)

CITATION: Koegelenberg, C. F. N. et al. 2018. The current aetiology of malignant pleural effusion in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. South African Medical Journal, 108(4):275-277, doi:10.7196/SAMJ.2018.v108i4.12914.

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Background: Malignant pleural effusion (MPE) represents a very common cause of pleural exudates, and is one of the most challenging pleural disorders to manage. This could be attributed to the paucity of high-quality experimental evidence, and inconsistent practice worldwide. South Africa (SA) currently has no data regarding the aetiology of MPE. Objectives: To identify the most common malignancies causing MPE in a population served by a large tertiary hospital in SA, and specifically the relative contribution of mesothelioma. A secondary objective was to evaluate the efficacy of chemical pleurodesis in a subset of patients. Methods: We retrospectively included all known cases of MPE evaluated at our institution over a 3-year period with a tissue diagnosis of MPE. Results: The most common causes of MPE in a total of 274 patients were lung cancer (n=174, 63.5%), breast cancer (n=32, 11.7%), unknown primary (n=22, 11.7%) and mesothelioma (n=27, 9.9%). Talc pleurodesis was performed in 81 of 194 patients (41.8%) referred to our division, and was radiologically successful in 22 of 25 (88.0%) followed up to 3 months. Conclusions: The main cause of MPE in our setting was lung cancer, followed by breast cancer, unknown primary and mesothelioma. Chemical pleurodesis was a viable palliative measure for MPE in this population.

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