A novel approach to treating fluid build-up around the lungs of cancer patients could deliver a more effective home-based treatment for thousands of people who might be approaching the end of their lives, according to a new study led by the University of Bristol and North Bristol NHS Trust.
In patients with all types of cancer excess fluid can start to collect between the thin layers of tissue lining the outside of the lung and the wall of the chest cavity. This phenomenon, called a “malignant pleural effusion” and which is particularly prevalent in lung and breast cancer patients, is estimated to affect at least 50,000 people in the UK each year with numbers increasing as both cancer survival and number of cancer diagnoses increases year-on-year.
As the lung becomes compressed by the surrounding fluid, patients will usually experience breathlessness and a dramatic reduction in quality of life. The commonest treatment for malignant effusions involves inserting a temporary tube between the ribs to drain the fluid, which allows the lung to expand. Before it is removed, medical talcum powder can be inserted down the tube to try to “glue” the lung to the inside of the chest wall to
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