Malignant pleural effusion (MPE) often presents in patients with cancer at an advanced stage and thus carries a poor prognosis. This review updates the current knowledge on the management of MPE, focusing on recent literature about the efficacy and safety of the most common methods, including pleurodesis by either thoracoscopy with talc insufflation or thoracostomy with talc slurry, use of an indwelling pleural catheter, and intrapleural chemotherapy. Talc remains the agent of choice in pleurodesis, although the use of alternative agents continues to be explored. The choice of procedure to achieve pleurodesis depends on careful patient selection based on predictive factors and individual characteristics. Talc pleurodesis is relatively well tolerated and safe, as is an indwelling pleural catheter, in an appropriate patient population. Because MPE is a common problem in cancer patients, future research with more randomized, prospective designs and innovative interventions is needed.
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