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BackgroundPatients with malignant pleural effusions (MPEs) experience breathlessness and poor survival. Breathlessness is associated with poor survival in other conditions.Research questionIs breathlessness, measured using a visual analogue scale for dyspnoea (VASD), associated with survival in patients with MPE?Study design and methodsIndividual patient data from five randomized controlled trials of 553 patients undergoing interventions for MPE were analysed. VASD was recorded at baseline and daily post-intervention. Patients were followed up until death or end of trial. Univariate and multivariable Cox-regression were used to identify factors associated with survival.ResultsBaseline VASD was significantly associated with worse survival, with a hazard ratio of 1.10 (95% CI 1.06-1.15) for a 10mm increase in VASD. On multivariable regression, it remained a significant predictor of survival. Mean 7 day VASD and mean total VASD were also predictors of survival (mean 7 day VASD, HR 1.26 (95% CI 1.19-1.34), total VASD, HR 1.25 (95% CI 1.15-1.37)). Other predictors of survival were serum C reactive protein level and tumour type. Previous treatment with chemotherapy, performance status, pleural fluid lactate dehydrogenase, serum albumin, haemoglobin, serum neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio and size of effusion were associated with survival on univariate but not multivariable analysis.InterpretationBreathlessness, measured using VASD at baseline and post-procedure, is a predictor of survival in patients with MPE.

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Journal article



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Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Norwich, Norfolk, UK; University of East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk, UK.