Chylothorax in children with cancer: A milky predicament
Chylothorax is an uncommon complication in children. Although surgery and trauma are the most common causes encountered, hematological as well as solid malignancies can present with chylothorax.

This study, published in the Indian Journal of Cancer, describes the presentation and management of malignant chylothorax in children. This is a case series from a pediatric hematology-oncology unit. Chylothorax was diagnosed by demonstrating high triglyceride content in the pleural fluid and a low cholesterol concentration in relation to the serum cholesterol.

Cytology for malignant cells and investigations for tuberculosis were performed in all patients. Initial management included placement of an intercostal tube and administration of a fat-free diet with the addition of medium-chain triglycerides. Appropriate treatment of the underlying malignancy was initiated simultaneously.

Three children with diagnoses of Stage IV neuroblastoma, lymphoblastic lymphoma, and Hodgkin lymphoma developed chylothorax. Malignant cytology was positive in the patient with T-NHL. All patients were found to have associated hypoproteinemia and hypoalbuminemia.

The chylothorax resolved with conservative measures in two patients. It remained intractable in the child with T-NHL, in whom the lymphoma was refractory to chemotherapy. Chylothorax is a rare but challenging complication that can accompany childhood malignancies. Surgical interventions, radiotherapy, and pleurodesis are alternatives if the chylothorax is refractory to medical management.

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