Tunneled pleural catheter use for pleural palliation does not increase infection rate in patients with treatment-related immunosuppression.

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Supportive care in cancer : official journal of the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer


Antineoplastic agents; Chemotherapy; Empyema; Immunosuppression; Malignant pleural effusion


PURPOSE: Concerns for infections resulting from antineoplastic therapy-associated immunosuppression may deter referral for symptom palliation with a tunneled pleural catheter (TPC) in patients with malignant/para-malignant pleural effusions (MPE/PMPE). While rates of TPC-related infections range from 1 to 21%, those in patients receiving antineoplastic therapy with correlation to immune status has not been established. We aimed to assess TPC-related infection rates in patients on antineoplastic therapy, determine relation to immune system competency, and assess impact on the patient.

METHODS: Patients with a MPE/PMPE undergoing TPC management associated with antineoplastic therapy, from 2008 to 2016, were reviewed and categorized into those with an immunocompromised versus immunocompetent immune status.

RESULTS: Of the 150 patients, a TPC-related infection developed in 13 (9%): pleural space in 11 (7%) and superficial in 2 (1%). Ninety-three percent (139/150) were identified to be immunocompromised during their antineoplastic therapy. No difference in TPC-related infections was seen in patients with an immunocompromised (9%, 12/139) versus immunocompetent status (9%, 1/11); p = 0.614. The presence of a catheter-related infection did not negatively impact overall survival over a median follow-up of 144 days (interquartile range 41-341); p = 0.740.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that antineoplastic therapy may not significantly increase the overall risk of TPC-related infections, as the rate remains low and comparable to rates in patients not undergoing antineoplastic therapy. Regardless of immune status, the presence of a catheter-related infection did not negatively impact overall survival. These results should reassure clinicians that the need to initiate antineoplastic therapy should not delay definitive pleural palliation with a TPC.

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