Journal of Thoracic Disease 2016 November [Link]

Fukui T, Yokoi K


Patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) associated with carcinomatous pleuritis are currently classified as having stage IV disease per the 7th edition of the tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) system, which means that the disease is deemed incurable. In fact, the 5-year survival rate of these patients was only 2% in a large global cohort collected by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer. However, patients with carcinomatous pleuritis have heterogeneous conditions. Some have minimal pleural effusion, which is first detected at thoracotomy; some have numerous pleural nodules without any effusion; and others have massive effusion and nodules with symptoms. Several investigators have reported the contribution of surgical intervention to favorable outcomes of patients with carcinomatous pleuritis first detected at thoracotomy. These reports show a relatively higher 5-year survival rate of 15% to 37%. The extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP) is a radical surgical procedure that is commonly employed in the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma. Two authors reported that they have successfully performed EPPs for the treatment of patients with carcinomatous pleuritis. Their 5-year survival rates were estimated to be 22% and 61%, a significantly improved outcome. Although the development of chemotherapeutic agents, including molecular targeted drugs, might have the potential to prolong the survival of patients with advanced lung cancer, surgical interventions including EPP might have a role in improving the survival of patients with carcinomatous pleuritis of minimal disease and those without massive effusion or numerous pleural nodules.