Please contact us if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Peritoneal Mesothelioma.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is a relatively uncommon form of mesothelioma cancer that accounts for less than a quarter of all mesothelioma cases. It is called Peritoneal because it appears as a tumor in the pertioneum membrane of the abdomen. Exposure to asbestos is the only known cause of this disease and usually symptoms do not occur until 20 to 40 years afterward. Unfortunately, due to a lack of effective treatments, malignant peritoneal mesothelioma is often fatal and patients who are afflicted by it will live on average less than a year from the time of their diagnosis.
When peritoneal mesothelioma does becomes active victims will typically experience abdominal pains, a loss of appetite, nausea, and swelling of the abdomen. Obstruction of the bowels or hindered breathing due to tumor growth are also possible symptoms.
Generally peritoneal mesothelioma is first detected by X-rays or CT scans conducted after a patient has complained of abdominal symptoms. After an abnormality is detected doctors will perform an analysis of the peritoneum. This procedure is known as peritoneoscopy. If an abnormality is verified, the doctor will perform a 'biopsy' or in laymen terms obtain a tissue sample for examination by a pathologist. The pathologist will than look at the tissue under a telescope and determine if mesothelioma is present.
Once mesothelioma is diagnosed, there are two general types of treatments; systemic and localized. Localized treatments are an attempt to eliminate the cancer by either surgery or radiotherapy and treat only the immediate area of the cancer. Systemic treatments, on the other hand, are designed to combat the cancer through out the whole body, and may be used either in earlier stages or late stages of the disease.
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In the event peritoneal mesothelioma is detected early enough the peritoneum where the cancer is growing may in some instances be removed by a surgery called peritonectomy. Unfortunately, however, mesothelioma, because of its gradually developing symptoms, is usually detected in its more advanced stages, when surgery is a less viable option. Yet even when it is detected in its earliest development, a complete removal of the cancer is unlikely. Further, there is a high post surgery mortality rate for this operation (the 30 days following being the most difficult) and, because of this, many centers will not perform the surgery.
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Regional chemotherapy, another form of localized treatment, is also an option that might be effective and may be sough both in early and late stages of the disease. By this method, anti-cancer drugs may be injected directly into the abdomen on a weekly or biweekly basis (depending on the type of drug used). In a method called adjuvant chemotherapy, regional chemotherapy may also be used directly following surgery in order to reduce the likelihood of the cancer returning once it has been removed. Generally speaking, when the cancer can not be entirely removed through surgery, chemotherapy is used through out the existence of the cancer in order to slow its development.
Because of its latent tendency, peritoneal mesothelioma is often diagnosed in its end stages when a person is too ill to handle intensive chemotherapy. In these cases, the goal of treatment is palliative or in other words designed primarily to remedy symptomatic problems such as pain, discomfort and weight loss. Often one source of pain and discomfort in late peritoneal mesothelioma is fluid build up inside the abdomen. A doctor may drain this fluid or peritoneal effusion through a method called abdominal paracentesis.
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