Study: Talc Pleurodesis a Viable Option for Mesothelioma

Research & Clinical Trials

Written by Tim Povtak

Reading Time: 4 mins
Publication Date: 01/29/2018
Fact Checked
Our fact-checking process begins with a thorough review of all sources to ensure they are high quality. Then we cross-check the facts with original medical or scientific reports published by those sources, or we validate the facts with reputable news organizations, medical and scientific experts and other health experts. Each page includes all sources for full transparency.
Reviewed is the nation’s most trusted mesothelioma resource

The Mesothelioma Center at has provided patients and their loved ones the most updated and reliable information on mesothelioma and asbestos exposure since 2006.

Our team of Patient Advocates includes a medical doctor, a registered nurse, health services administrators, veterans, VA-accredited Claims Agents, an oncology patient navigator and hospice care expert. Their combined expertise means we help any mesothelioma patient or loved one through every step of their cancer journey.

More than 30 contributors, including mesothelioma doctors, survivors, health care professionals and other experts, have peer-reviewed our website and written unique research-driven articles to ensure you get the highest-quality medical and health information.

About The Mesothelioma Center at

  • Assisting mesothelioma patients and their loved ones since 2006.
  • Helps more than 50% of mesothelioma patients diagnosed annually in the U.S.
  • A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
  • 5-star reviewed mesothelioma and support organization.
Learn More About Us


"My family has only the highest compliment for the assistance and support that we received from The Mesothelioma Center. This is a staff of compassionate and knowledgeable individuals who respect what your family is experiencing and who go the extra mile to make an unfortunate diagnosis less stressful. Information and assistance were provided by The Mesothelioma Center at no cost to our family."
Mesothelioma patient’s daughter
  • Google Review Rating
  • BBB Review Rating

How to Cite’s Article


Povtak, T. (2020, October 16). Study: Talc Pleurodesis a Viable Option for Mesothelioma. Retrieved May 25, 2023, from


Povtak, Tim. "Study: Talc Pleurodesis a Viable Option for Mesothelioma.", 16 Oct 2020,


Povtak, Tim. "Study: Talc Pleurodesis a Viable Option for Mesothelioma." Last modified October 16, 2020.

Doctor auscultating a patient

Some patients with mesothelioma should consider the less-invasive talc pleurodesis procedure instead of aggressive, tumor-removing surgery, based on recent research from doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Although talc pleurodesis is considered only palliative, survival time often is not significantly different between the two procedures, according to the study published by Journal of Thoracic Disease.

“There should be comprehensive conversation with your physician about treatment options, not only about survival, but about quality of life,” Dr. Emanuela Taioli, department of thoracic surgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told “Going through this kind of thoracic surgery is an extensive process.”

A Comprehensive Review of Talc Pleurodesis

Taioli led a group of researchers including Maaike van Gerwen, of the Institute for Translational Epidemiology at Icahn, and thoracic surgeon Raja Flores at Mount Sinai Hospital.

The research included a comprehensive review of 49 previous studies that focused on survival rates comparing talc pleurodesis to aggressive surgery after a pleural mesothelioma diagnosis.

The average survival of patients treated with talc pleurodesis was 14 months, compared to just 17 months for those having the aggressive pleurectomy and decortication (P/D) surgery and 24 months for the even more aggressive extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP).

“A person may choose to do the talc, knowing survival might be a little shorter, but clearly the quality of life may be better by avoiding major surgery,” Taioli said. “Unless the doctor tells you, ‘this is such a favorable case, and I can promise you a much longer life with surgery,’ [talc pleurodesis] might be something to consider.”

Focus on Relieving Symptoms

Talc pleurodesis is a surgical procedure used to treat and prevent pleural effusions, a typical symptom of mesothelioma. The palliative treatment improves quality of life by relieving pain and making it easier to breath.

The goal of a pleurodesis is to drain the fluid around the lungs that makes it difficult to breath, then eliminate the pleural space where it accumulates to prevent it from returning.

Patients say it alleviates several symptoms of pleural mesothelioma. It does not remove cancer cells.

Talc pleurodesis typically requires a hospital stay of just one to two days. P/D or EPP surgery can require a hospital stay of one to three weeks.

Major procedures also carry considerably more complications and a much longer recovery period.

“Quality of life is clearly different after the procedures,” Taioli said. “I’m not saying that major surgery shouldn’t be the cornerstone of treatment, but you should be informed about all the options.”

One reason for longer median survival involving aggressive surgeries is that typically patients who qualify for — and have the surgery — are healthier to start.

Many patients who are not surgical candidates opt for the palliative talc pleurodesis.

Still No Cure for Mesothelioma

There is no cure for pleural mesothelioma, even with multidisciplinary treatment that includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Taioli believes a randomized comparison study should be done before any definitive recommendations can be made.

The research group found only two acceptable data sets reporting one- and two-year survival rates for those undergoing talc pleurodesis.

Researchers found 37 data sets for those undergoing more aggressive surgery.

The pooled one-year survival rates for P/D and EPP were 55 and 67 percent, respectively. The one-year survival rate for talc pleurodesis was 57 percent in one data set, but only 17 percent in the other.

Two-year survival rates for P/D and EPP were 32 and 36 percent. The two-year rate for talc pleurodesis was 10 and 13 percent.

“The studies reporting on one-year survival are scarce for talc and prevent any firm conclusion,” the report concluded. “Studies, however, suggest that surgery is still the best option, and that EPP patients fare better than P/D patients.”

blue medical health symbol
Connect with a Mesothelioma Doctor
Find a Top Specialist Near You