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Pericardial window operation less efficient in cases of lung cancer than any other cancer

Pericardial window operation, a procedure, where the abnormal quantity of malignant fluid, or malignant pericardial effusion (MPE), surrounding the heart, is drained into the neighbouring chest cavity through a surgically placed tube, is commonly applied to patients diagnosed with cancer.

However, researchers from the Taipei Tzuchi Hospital, Taiwan, have now looked into the electronic medical records of 52 cancer patients, including 30 cases of lung-cancer, archived between 2005 and 2015. They conclude that the treatment is not as effective in lung cancer cases when compared to any other cancer patients. In their study, published in the open access journal Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO), they also suggest a few alternatives worthy of consideration.

The authors retrieved retrospective data of the patients and compared them in terms of hospital stay length, overall mortality and overall length of survival. They also took details such as dates of operations, hospital discharge and death, into account.

As a result, they found out that there were no significant differences between the treatment’s outcomes in the patient groups at the time of hospital release. On the other hand, over a longer ten-year timeline, it turned out that the lung cancer patients had experienced notably higher mortality rate.

Alternative treatments for MPE, such as less invasive, yet no less efficient, methods relying on needle punctures instead of an “open” approach, where internal organs and tissues are exposed, are proposed by the authors. However, they note that the decision for a treatment needs to be taken strictly individually.

“Since the MPE prognosis is multi-factorial, the superiority of percutaneous versus surgical approach is still controversial,” they explain.

In conclusion, the researchers point out that their survey is a single-institution based one and not very extensive, so there is still need for research to track the relationship between the type of cancer and the MPE treatments.