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Malignant pleural effusion (MPE) is a common complication of thoracic and extrathoracic malignancies and is associated with high mortality and elevated costs to healthcare systems. Over the last decades the understanding of pathophysiology mechanisms, diagnostic techniques and optimal treatment intervention in MPE have been greatly advanced by recent high-quality research, leading to an ever less invasive diagnostic approach and more personalized management. Despite a number of management options, including talc pleurodesis, indwelling pleural catheters and combinations of the two, treatment for MPE remains symptom directed and centered around drainage strategy. In the next future, because of a better understanding of underlying tumor biology together with more sensitive molecular diagnostic techniques, it is likely that combined diagnostic and therapeutic procedures allowing near total outpatient management of MPE will become popular. This article provides a review of the current advances, new discoveries and future directions in the pathophysiology, diagnosis and management of MPE.

Original publication




Journal article


Respiratory research

Publication Date





Department of Biomedical Sciences and Public Health, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona Via Conca 71, Ancona, 60126, Italy.


Humans, Pleural Effusion, Malignant, Talc, Drainage, Pleurodesis, Catheters, Indwelling