A survey of treatment approaches of malignant ascites in Germany and Austria.

Research paper by C F CF Jehn, S S Küpferling, G G Oskay-Özcelik, D D Lüftner

Indexed on: 22 Dec '14Published on: 22 Dec '14Published in: Supportive Care in Cancer


Malignant ascites (MA) is a common manifestation of advanced cancer. Currently, there are no evidence-based guidelines for the management of MA. We conducted a survey with physicians throughout Germany and Austria, to get an overview of current approaches and opinions in the treatment of MA.One hundred and twenty-eight medical oncologists (MO), gastroenterologists (GE), and gynecologists (GYN) completed an electronic questionnaire consisting of 33 questions.Ninety percent of the physicians were from Germany and 10% from Austria; 48% of those were MO, 30% were GYN, and 14% were GE. Most physicians treated an average of 34 patients (pts)/year with MA. Twenty-six percent of these pts suffered from ovarian, 20% from pancreatic, 17% from gastric, and 14% from colorectal cancer. The majority of the physicians associated MA with poor prognosis (92%) and significant reduction in quality of life (87%). One third felt that MA was a contraindication for full dosing of systemic chemotherapy. Paracentesis (PC) was performed in 70% of pts with symptom relieve and quality of life being the main reasons. Almost half of the pts required 3-5 PC, 50% even more than 5 PC during the course of their disease. Only 15% of pts needed multiple PC per week; the majority (79%) needed the procedure either once a week or every 14 days. In 61% of pts, 3-5 L of ascites fluid was drained. Only in 8%, 5 L and more were removed. Volume substitution with IV albumin was performed in 40% of pts. Most pts (55%) had to stay 1-3 h in a healthcare facility for the procedure. However, 21% had to stay ≥1 day. While almost all physicians (89%) performed a PC at some point in the treatment of MA, 75% felt that a systemic chemotherapy and 55% thought a concomitant diuretic therapy were a necessary adjunct. Seven percent of the pts received a targeted treatment with catumaxomab.Repeated PC is the main pillar of treatment of MA; its effect is only temporary and requires significant hospital resources. Further treatment strategies of MA have to be evaluated in prospective studies. Targeted therapies like catumaxomab and VEGF inhibitors should be integrated into these.