Pleural/pericardial effusions

Has anyone else suffered a pericardial and pleural effusion? I had this a few months ago and had op for pericardial window and pleural drains. Have since had Taxotere and currently having Herceptin but the fluid in lungs showing no sign of stopping. Wondering if anyone has any ideas of other treatment I could have?

Hello Tools

I have had both of these I was half way through 6 sessions of FEC at the time. They drained my left lung and stuck it together (pleuradesis) and drained the pericardial effusion. Once I was out of hospital I continued with the FEC. This was in June 07. May this year I had another pleural effusion in the right lung which has now been drained and stuck.

Since then I havn’t had any more major problems with it. I am currently having Armidex and Zoladex injections and have just had a scan which has shown that everything is stable at the moment.

I can remember how painful the pericardial effusion was I was in agony How about you?
The oncs did say that the chemo would eventually reduce the fluid and it did mostly.

Where are your secondaries?

PM me if you want any more info
regards CAroline

Hi Caroline

At last someone else with this experience! It was really frightening as wasn’t properly diagnosed for about 5 days and left heart ventricle had collapsed.

After they had drained the pericardial effusion and created pericardial window I had drains put in the lungs (one of which I still have in). This was in June. The Taxotere didn’t dry up fluid (although it has lessened). I will ask oncologist about FEC.

I asked the lung specialist about sticking together the lining of the lungs but he is reluctant to do it as says seldom works.

I am taking Exemestane - what are the Zoladex injections for?

Hello Tools
I know what you mean about not many people having this when I first posted on here last year there didn’t seem to be any other people who had had the same thing.
I think I ws lucky in some ways that because I had a pleural effusion when I was first dx I was being regularily scanned and x-rayed so they have managed to keep on top of it.

Where are you being treated? I am being treated at the Royal Berks in Reading

The zoladex injections are to switch off my ovaries because I am pre-menopausal then the Armidex works better.

That must be horrible still having the drain in after all this time!!!
With regards to the pleuradesis the oncs did say that sometimes it doens’t work but they were very positive about it and it has definately worked for me.


I hava a pleural effusion on the left lung which was how my secondaries were diagnosed over 2 years ago. It wasn, drained at the time but I had FEC which seemed to reduce it and then Vinorelbine but it did worsen significenty and was drained and a talc pleuorodisis done. Because of all the fluid my lung had partially collapsed and that damage is now permenant. The lung is also encased in a hard cancerous casing. There is still some fluid there. My last scans done in September showed a spread to the right lung with a pleual effusion but not as bad. The pulmonary surgeon is reluctant to do a pleurodisis as it means collapsing that lung which has in his view too many risks as effectively I only have that lung working. I am on Taxol and Avastin to see if thathelps and am due another scan at the end of December. My breathing has improved. So sorry but that’s the not so good news story!
Best Wishes Kathryn

Thanks for your replies. I am seeing my oncologist tomorrow and will ask him about trying another chemo to see if it will perhaps dry up the fluid. Will also raise the subject of pleurodesis again.

Are you able to get out and about much - I find I can’t walk very far.

Hi Tools
I was running until the fluid really took over but am still walking several miles although breathless especially in this cold weather, I would ask for a referral to a pulmonary surgeon to dicuss the pleuodisis.
Good Luck with your appointment

I had a pericardial effusion with one and a half litres of fluid drained off in early October, discvered after i had been on holiday and not well throughout. 13 hour long haul flight did not help but luvkily I didn’t realise how ill I was. also had mild pleural effusion in each lung, but that was not drained. This was when they told me it was secondaries. I thought I just had an infection! But not really suprisinfg as I had has several regional recurrances with surgery and chemo. Origianlly diagnosed 2001. Am going to see onc this afternoon to start my 3rd round of vinelorabine, Not too bad so far, at least I have kept my hair. Although have had 2 infections ,one chest and one UTI both with strong antibiotics which have not made me feel too good. My options of chemo are running out as I am triple neg. and this is my 4th time on chemo. But I thought I was reasonable knowlegeable about bc as I have been browing these forums for years, but had never heard of pericardial effusion until I had it. So it is nice to hear of others in the same boat and how they are progressing. Anyone going to the secondary breast cancer day in London in February?


Reassuring that there are a few of us out there!

Went to oncologist today to get results of scan. Nothing hadn’t been expecting really.

He has put me on Capecitabine tablets so will start taking them tomorrow. Anyone had this type of chemo? Hope am not too sick with it as was looking forward to Christmas dinner! Mind you diahorrea seems the worst side effect from what I’ve read - either way looks like a fair bit of time being spent in the loo! He has stopped the Herceptin until I have the echocardiogram.

He is also going to speak to the pulmonary surgeon to reconsider doing the pleurodesis.

Hi Tools29 – sorry no experience of pericardial effusion, but do have over five years experience of Xeloda (liver & bone mets) – now on a low dose (1000mg x twice a day; two weeks on, one week off), so almost no side effects, but started on 2000mg x twice a day; it was a few cycles before I had the hand/foot syndrome side effects. A lot of us on this forum have found Xeloda “easier” than other/IV chemotherapy drugs, but some of us have not been able to take it – hope you’re in the “able to take it” group, that it works well for you, and that you don’t have any problems that prevent you from enjoying your Christmas dinner! Do lay in a supply of nice skin cream for your hands & feet, and you might also try Vitamin B6 to reduce side effects (works for some, not for others).

Marilyn x

Hi Marilyn

Thanks for your comments. I didn’t realise you could take Xeloda indefinitely - certainly seems to be working for you which is promising. I’m going to be on 1500 x twice a day and oncologist has given me the B6 tablets as well. Am pschying myself up to start taking them tomorrow! Did it have any effect on your hair, mine is just growing back after the Taxotere? Pharmacist told me to take the anti-sickness tablets even if I didnt feel sick which seems a bit stupid. Did you have much sickness?

I will put in a request for lovely skin cream to Father Christmas!

Hi again Tools29

I’ve been pretty lucky with Xeloda – in addition to it shrinking my liver mets quite quickly and keeping me stable, it hasn’t really affected my hair (which grew back curly & with much grey after CMF chemo at primary dx in 1997!). I did have some very mild sickness when I started taking Xeloda at 2000mg x twice a day, but never needed anti-sickness tablets; very rarely have any digestive problems now, on 1000mg x twice a day. Of course, we all have such different reactions to our mets & treatments.

Glad to hear you’ll be trying the Vit B6 to avoid/reduce the dreaded hand/foot syndrome side effects, but I would advise you to start lavishly moisturising your hands and feet now, rather than wait for Father Christmas’s delivery. I’m sure you’ve been very good :wink: so you could treat yourself to some nice goo now. I’ve found creams with urea, aloe vera, hemp & shea butter are good, not to mention the wonderful Udderly Smooth udder cream – will P.M. you more info about these.

Best of luck with the Xeloda – hope you find it as easy as I (and lots of us) have done, and that it works well for you.

Marilyn x

Hi Tools29

I am another lady on xeloda - just started my 10th cycle this morning, so not as far on as Marilyn but am definitely hoping that it will continue working for me for a number of years as well! It has shrunk my liver mets to virtually nothing on scan.

I started on 2000mg x 2 but have reduced to 1150mg now things are more stable, as was getting quite sore feet and hands. I don’t take any anti-sickness tablets at all - so long as I take the xeloda soon after eating, I am ok except very occasionally when I haven’t eaten for a while. But even then, just eating something stops the nausea. Tend to get a slightly upset tum in the 2nd week, so have a stock of immodium - sometimes I need it but not every cycle. And my hair hasn’t even thinned - hair loss isn’t usual with xeloda - which is great as I lost all mine last year on Taxol. I certainly find it easier than the other chemos I’ve had.

Good luck! Kay

Thanks all for your helpful comments. It doesn’t seem as frightening now. I am going to start taking the tablets on Sunday morning. Hope I will get on with Xeloda as well as Marilyn and Kay.

Am also going to get some nice creams tomorrow and have a look at the Andrew M’s website.


I had a Pleural effusion jan this year - finally dignosed in April and drained. fluid did disappear eventually and now have non - 2 chemos later.
Breathing normally now
have live, bone and aorta mets too.