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NICE approves catheter drainage system for cancer

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A device that can help reduce the severe abdominal fluid retention experienced by some cancer patients has been approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

The PleurX peritoneal catheter drainage system is designed to treat recurrent malignant ascites – the build up of too much fluid between membranes lining the abdominal wall, which can be a symptom of different types of cancers.

NICE said evidence suggested using the system could improve patient quality of life and had a low complication rate.

The device fits into the abdominal wall, and enables the fluid to drain out via a catheter into a vacuum bottle.

NICE said one “important benefit” of the PleurX system is that the fluid can be drained at home as needed, so it’s not necessary to wait for an uncomfortably large volume of fluid to build up for removal in hospital as is currently the case.

Duleep Allirajah, Head of Policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Ascites is a symptom of many types of cancer and can be very distressing. We support any device which helps to relieve the pain and discomfort of this side-effect. Its use will enable more cancer patients to receive good palliative care in a community setting.”

Lisa Peck, gynaecological cancer clinical nurse specialist for 3 Counties Cancer Network, already uses the system. She said: “The insertion of semi-permanent drains for management of malignant ascites has had a huge impact on the quality of life for some of our patients.”

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