Are pleural effusions (fluid on the lungs) more common in men or women?

Updated: Dec 28, 2018
  • Author: Kamran Boka, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH  more...
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Although certain etiologies have a sex predilection, the general understanding is that the incidence of pleural effusion is equal between the sexes. Nearly two thirds of malignant pleural effusions occur in women, in whom they are associated with breast and gynecologic malignancies.

Pleural effusion associated with systemic lupus erythematosus is specifically more common in women than in men. In the United States, the incidence of pleural effusion in the setting of malignant mesothelioma is higher in men, probably because of their higher occupational exposure to asbestos.

Pleural effusions associated with chronic pancreatitis are more common in men, with the majority of male cases having alcohol abuse as the impetus. Rheumatoid effusions also occur more commonly in males than in females.

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