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Int J Clin Exp Pathol 2013;6(5):973-977

Case Report
Good response of malignant pleural effusion from carcinoma of unknown primary site to
the anti-tuberculosis therapy: a case report

Qihua Gu, Chengping Hu, Jingjing Qu

Department of respiratory medicine, Xiangya Hospital affiliated to Central South University, Changsha City, Hunan, 410008, P.R. China

Received February 21, 2013; Accepted March 19, 2013; Epub April 15, 2013; Published May 1, 2013

Abstract: Malignant pleural effusion in patients with cancers or malignant pleural mesothelioma may often appear at the late stage of disease
and significantly affect the patients’ life quality and survival. However, there is still no very effective treatment to control malignant pleural
effusion. Here we report that malignant pleural effusion in one patient was completely relieved for 15 months by the anti-tuberculosis therapy.
Case presentation: A 54-year-old female patient complained of cough, dyspnea, chest pain, night sweat and light fever in the afternoon.
Computed tomography (CT) of the chest revealed bilateral pleural effusion. But no tumor was found in the lung, pleura and in other sites. Blood
test revealed serum carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) level at 300 ng/mL. One week after we tried anti-tuberculosis combined therapy with
isoniazid, pyrazinamide, rifapentine and ethambutol. The pleural effusion in patient was eliminated, along with decreasing CEA. But the CEA
increased gradually again when the anti-tuberculosis treatment was forced to discontinuation. Sixteen months after anti-tuberculosis treatment,
the symptoms of cough and breathing difficulty relapsed. Chest CT revealed left pleural effusion, pleural thickness and pericardium nodules.
Thoracoscopy and biopsy were conducted. The pleural nodules specimen was pathologically diagnosed as squamous cell carcinoma.
Conclusion We reported a rare case of successfully treating malignant pleural effusion caused by squamous cell carcinoma of unknown
primary site with the anti-tuberculosis combined. This report provides useful evidences for that the anti-tubercular agents may have potential
anticancer activity in some carcinomas. (IJCEP1302030).

Keywords: Malignant pleural effusion, carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), anti-tuberculosis therapy

Address correspondence to: Dr. Qihua Gu, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Xiangya Hospital affiliated to Central South University,
Changsha City, Hunan, 410008, P.R. China. E-mail: guqihua@yahoo.com.cn