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Optimal Management of Malignant Pleural Effusions (Results of CALGB 30102)

Todd L. Demmy, Lin Gu, Jack E. Burkhalter, Eric M. Toloza, Thomas A. D'Amico, Susan Sutherland, Xiaofei Wang, Laura Archer, Linda J. Veit, Leslie Kohman, and the Cancer and Leukemia Group B

The optimal strategy to achieve palliation of malignant pleural effusions (MPEs) is unknown. This multi-institutional, prospective, randomized trial compares 2 established methods for controlling symptomatic unilateral MPEs. Patients with unilateral MPEs were randomized to either daily tunneled catheter drainage (TCD) or bedside talc pleurodesis (TP). This trial is patterned after a previous randomized trial that showed that bedside TP was equivalent to thoracoscopic TP (CALGB 9334). The primary end point of the current study was combined success: consistent/reliable drainage/pleurodesis, lung expansion, and 30-day survival. A secondary end point, survival with effusion control, was added retrospectively. This trial randomized 57 patients who were similar in terms of age (62 years), active chemotherapy (28%), and histologic diagnosis (lung, 63%; breast, 12%; other/unknown cancers, 25%) to either bedside TP or TCD. Combined success was higher with TCD (62%) than with TP (46%; odds ratio, 5.0; P = .064). Multivariate regression analysis revealed that patients treated with TCD had better 30-day activity without dyspnea scores (8.7 vs. 5.9; P = .036), especially in the subgroup with impaired expansion (9.1 vs. 4.6; P = .042). Patients who underwent TCD had better survival with effusion control at 30 days compared with those who underwent TP (82% vs. 52%, respectively; P = .024). In this prospective randomized trial, TCD achieved superior palliation of unilateral MPEs than TP, particularly in patients with trapped lungs.