Ascites and pleural effusion

• Fluid can accumulate in the abdomen or chest as a side- effect of cancer. Fluid in the abdomen is called ascites, while that in the chest is called a pleural effusion. These problems are common in women with ovarian cancer.

• A pleural effusion can make breathing difficult by compressing the lungs as it accumulates. Ascites can be uncomfortable and can also make breathing difficult.

• The fluid can be removed using a syringe or by inserting a drain, after the area has been numbed with local anaesthetic. The procedure can be repeated if more fluid builds up. Ascites is not usually removed before you have surgery, unless you are very uncomfortable. It will be taken away using a suction tube at the start of the operation.

• Treatment of the cancer cells using surgery and, particularly, chemotherapy may reduce the rate at which fluid builds up. It may cause the ascites and/or pleural effusion to disappear.