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Lung diseases

Mechanical Pleurodesis and Lung Cancer




I am a 32 year old caucasian male. When I was 16, my left lung spontaneously collapsed on two separate occasions. First, I was treated with a chest tube, and after the second collapse, I was treated with mechanical pleurodesis, sealing my lung to my chest cavity with scar tissue.

I have had no problems since then, and have even run several marathons with no problem.

Unfortunately, I became something of a social smoker in recent years, and stopped several months ago.

I am growing increasingly worried about any correlation between my lung surgery and an increased risk of lung cancer and/or problems with treating a possible lung cancer.

My question: Is there any data or anecdotal evidence suggesting an increased risk of lung cancer in a lung that has been scarred by mechanical pleurodesis?

Additionally, if, in the future, lung cancer were to develop, does the scarring associated with the procedure make treatment or excision more of a problem? Does the scarring interfere in other ways, possibly in the detection of lung cancer?

Thank you very much for your response to this rather convoluted question!


There is no data to suggest that a previous mechanical pleurodesis increases the risk of lung cancer. However, if you were to develop a lung cancer on the side of the pleurodesis, it would make surgery much more difficult. If you haven't smoked much, your risk is low. But I would strongly advise you to never pick up another cigarette again.

I hope this helps.

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Response by:

Sandra L Starnes, MD Sandra L Starnes, MD
Assistant Professor of Surgery
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati