Research article

BMC Palliative Care

, 3:4

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Mitoxantrone pleurodesis to palliate malignant pleural effusion secondary to ovarian cancer

  • Nikolaos BarbetakisAffiliated withCardiothoracic Surgery Department, Theagenio Cancer Hospital Email author 
  • , Michalis VassiliadisAffiliated withAnaesthesiology Department, Theagenio Cancer Hospital
  • , Konstantinos KaplanisAffiliated withGynaecologic Oncology Department, Theagenio Cancer Hospital
  • , Rosalia ValeriAffiliated withCytopathology Department, Theagenio Cancer Hospital
  • , Christodoulos TsilikasAffiliated withCardiothoracic Surgery Department, Theagenio Cancer Hospital



Advanced ovarian cancer is the leading non-breast gynaecologic cause of malignant pleural effusion. Aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of mitoxantrone sclerotherapy as a palliative treatment of malignant pleural effusions due to ovarian cancer.


Sixty women with known ovarian cancer and malignant recurrent symptomatic pleural effusion were treated with chest tube drainage followed by intrapleural mitoxantrone sclerotherapy. Survival, complications and response to pleurodesis were recorded. The data are expressed as the mean ± SEM and the median.


The mean age of the entire group was 64 ± 11,24 years. The mean interval between diagnosis of ovarian cancer and presentation of the effusion was 10 ± 2,1 months. Eighteen patients (30%) had pleural effusion as the first evidence of recurrence. The mean volume of effusion drained was 1050 ± 105 ml and chest tube was removed within 4 days in 75% of patients. There were no deaths related to the procedure. Side effects of chemical pleurodesis included fever (37–38,5°C) chest pain, nausea and vomiting. At 30 days among 60 treated effusions, there was an 88% overall response rate, including 41 complete responses and 12 partial responses. At 60 days the overall response was 80% (38 complete responses and 10 partial responses). The mean survival of the entire population was 7,5 ± 1,2 months.


Mitoxantrone is effective in the treatment of malignant pleural effusion secondary to ovarian cancer without causing significant local or systemic toxicity.