Indwelling pleural catheters proving a relief for cancer patients.
Dr Rajesh Thomas, Dr Claire Tobin, and the Pleural Medicine team have completed a first ever study on the longevity of indwelling pleural catheter’s (IPCs).
IPCs are now frequently used worldwide for the management of malignant pleural effusion.
Malignant pleural effusion is the build up of fluid around the chest cavity causing breathlessness for some cancer patients.
When tumors grow, the body reacts by filling the pleural space around the lungs with fluid. This then puts pressure on the lungs, making it difficult and even painful to breathe.
IPCs are flexible silicone catheters which are placed in a patient’s chest, allowing excess fluid to be drained. This treatment plan is non-evasive and can be done at home instead of having to go into hospital.
Dr Thomas and Dr Claire Tobin examined catheters removed from 41 patients who predominately had malignant mesothelioma followed by breast, ovarian and lung cancer.
Although the IPCs had been left in place for on average 126 days (some as long as 226 days), they were all fully intact when they were removed and were not hosting new tumors.
The study included a macroscopic examination of the tubes for evidence of holes or other problems, as well as a microscopic examination of the cells on their surfaces.
Although malignant cells were found in the ends of most of the IPCs, there was no evidence that the devices were harboring tumours.
The study provides reassuring evidence that the IPC material does not support direct tumour growth or invasion even in the setting of high mesothelioma prevalence.