Patients with malignant pleural effusion (MPE) who underwent successful pleurodesis survive longer than those for whom it fails. We hypothesize that the therapy-induced inflammatory responses inhibit the cancer progression, and thereby lead to a longer survival. Thirty-three consecutive patients with MPE that were eligible for bleomycin pleurodesis between September 2015 and December 2017 were recruited prospectively. Nineteen patients (57.6%) achieved fully or partially successful pleurodesis, while 14 patients either failed or survived less than 30 days after pleurodesis. Two patients without successful pleurodesis were excluded because of missing data. Interleukin (IL)-1 beta, IL-6, IL-10, transforming growth factor beta, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and vascular endothelial growth factor in the pleural fluid were measured before, and after 3 and 24 h of pleurodesis. Their pleurodesis outcome and survival were monitored and analyzed. Patients who underwent successful pleurodesis had a longer survival rate. Patients without successful pleurodesis had significantly higher TNF-α and IL-10 levels in their pleural fluid than in the successful patients before pleurodesis. Following pleurodesis, there was a significant increment of IL-10 in the first three hours in the successful patients. In contrast, significant increments of TNF-α and IL-10 were found in the unsuccessful patients between 3 and 24 h after pleurodesis. The ability to produce specific cytokines in the pleural space following pleurodesis may be decisive for the patient's outcome and survival. Serial measurement of cytokines can help allocate the patients to adequate treatment strategies. Further study of the underlying mechanism may shed light on cytokine therapies as novel approaches.