Pleurodesis for Lung Cancer

A pleurodesis is a surgical procedure that can be used to help prevent the recurrence of a pleural effusion, or a buildup of fluid in the space surrounding the lungs (pleura). A common complication of lung cancer, mesothelioma and other cancers that develop in the chest, the presence of fluid in the thoracic cavity can cause several uncomfortable symptoms, including chest pain, coughing and shortness of breath. Draining a pleural effusion can alleviate discomfort and make it easier for a patient to breathe. Because the fluid can reaccumulate over time, it may be necessary to drain the pleura on a regular basis. Alternatively, a surgeon may recommend a pleurodesis to close off the space in order to prevent further fluid accumulation.

There are several different ways to perform a pleurodesis. Surgeons may:

  • Introduce medications, such as bleomycin, into the chest space to irritate the pleural wall, causing the surfaces to grow together and the pleural space to become closed off (a chemical pleurodesis)
  • Apply a talcum powder slurry to the pleural wall to create irritation (a talc pleurodesis)
  • Mechanically irritate the pleural wall with a rough pad or other method of creating friction (surgical pleurodesis)

Patients who are experiencing recurrent pleural effusions can come to Moffitt Cancer Center for effective, individualized treatment. Our thoracic surgery team specializes in procedures involving the lungs, pleura and chest cavity, and our surgeons have the experience necessary to skillfully perform highly complex operations.

For more information about the surgical procedures offered at Moffitt, call 1-888-MOFFITT or submit a new patient registration form online. Patients can consult with our team regarding a pleurodesis or any other type of treatment with or without referrals.