What is the role of neoplastic disease in the etiology of pericardial effusion?

Updated: Nov 28, 2018
  • Author: William J Strimel, DO, FACP; Chief Editor: Terrence X O'Brien, MD, MS, FACC  more...
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Neoplastic disease can involve the pericardium through the following mechanisms:

  • Direct extension from mediastinal structures or the cardiac chamber

  • Retrograde extension from the lymphatic system

  • Hematologic seeding

Malignancies with the highest prevalence of pericardial effusion include lung (37% of malignant effusions) and breast (22%) malignancies, as well as leukemia/lymphoma (17%). However, patients with malignant melanoma or mesothelioma also have a high prevalence of associated pericardial effusions.

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