Peritoneal Mesothelioma is the second-most prevalent form of asbestos-related cancer, rarer than the pleural variety, and accounting for about 10% - 15% of all diagnosed Mesothelioma cases. This form of cancer affects the lining of the abdomen, known as the peritoneum.
Doctors and researchers offer two theories as to how asbestos fibers are able to enter the peritoneum. Some believe that the fibers are caught and held by the mucus in the trachea or bronchi and ultimately swallowed. The second explanation notes that fibers lodged in the lungs may move into the lymphatic system and be transferred to the peritoneum.
Regardless of which explanation is correct, peritoneal Mesothelioma can be quite difficult to detect, as the cancer may lay dormant for many years. Like all types of asbestos-related cancers, documented incidences show that this type has, at times, been dormant for up to four decades. That, of course, makes it all the more difficult to treat this disease because, by the time it’s detected, it has reached its advanced stages.
The symptoms of peritoneal Mesothelioma are non-specific and can often be mistaken as indicators of a much less serious disease. Therefore, it’s important to let medical professionals know that the patient has been exposed to asbestos in the past. Symptoms of this type of Mesothelioma might include:
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal swelling due to fluid accumulation
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Bowel obstruction
- Breathing difficulties
Location of the tumor will determine which symptoms are present and/or most severe and symptoms may be different according to the patient’s general health and age.
Often, the diagnosis of peritoneal Mesothelioma is accidental, perhaps discovered during an x-ray for another ailment. Additional x-rays, CT scans, or MRIs may be ordered but, ultimately, a tissue biopsy will be the most conclusive test.
Once this type of Mesothelioma is diagnosed, treatment options will be discussed. While there is currently no cure for this disease, the patient can be treated in a variety of ways to help ease symptoms, reduce pain, and prolong life. Options include:
- Surgery – the surgery performed for peritoneal Mesothelioma may involve cutting out part of the lining and tissue from the abdominal area in order to remove the tumor. If the tumor is particularly large, a lung or a section of the diaphragm may need to be removed as well. Because this type of cancer is so often diagnosed in its late stages, surgery may not be an option as the cancer has already spread too much by this point.
- Chemotherapy – the use of intra-peritoneal chemotherapy is often recommended to patients with peritoneal Mesothelioma. This involves the infusion of chemotherapy drugs directly into the abdominal cavity. It can be used after surgery or on its own.
- Radiation therapy – radiation may be targeted directly at cancer cells or can be used for palliative reasons such as to reduce pain or shortness of breath or to control the spread of the tumor.
- Clinical trials – some patients choose to participate in clinical trials or employ the use of therapies that have not yet been deemed successful in treating the disease, such as gene therapy or immunotherapy.
Although peritoneal Mesothelioma is not the most prevalent form of asbestos-related cancer, it is indeed a serious problem and many people die each year from the disease. If you, a friend, or a loved one has been diagnosed with this or any other type of asbestos-related cancer, learn about your options and rights by ordering our free Mesothelioma Resource Kit, full of information on the disease, its treatments, and the legal options of an asbestos-related cancer victim.