Pleural effusion is an accumulation of fluid between the layers of tissue lining the lungs and chest cavity. Sometimes this is the first symptom of cancer. When that happens it is called a 'Malignant Effusion.'
There are two types of effusions: Transudative pleural effusions are caused by fluid leaking into the pleural space, which is caused by high pressure or low protein content in blood vessels. The most common cause is congestive heart failure. This type of effusion will quickly re-occur if not treated definitively.Exudative effusions are the result of leaky blood vessels caused by inflammation (swelling and irritation) of the pleura. This is often caused by lung disease. Examples include lung cancer, lung infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, drug reactions, and asbestosis.Treatment may be directed at removing the liquid, preventing it from accumulating again, or addressing the underlying cause of the buildup of fluid. For example, pleural effusions caused by congestive heart failure treated with diuretics and other drugs used to treat heart failure. Pleural effusions caused by infection are treated with appropriate antibiotics.In people with cancer or infections, the effusion is often treated using a chest tube for several days to drain the fluid, to prevent rapid reaccumulation. In some cases, you can use a procedure called pleurodesis or poudrage which is instilling medication into the chest to prevent reaccumulation of fluid after drainage.