Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the mesothelial lining of the abdominal region. The second most common form of the cancer, peritoneal mesothelioma accounts for about a quarter of the approximately two thousand new cases of the disease reported annually in the United States. The vast majority of patients diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma report a history of working with asbestos or asbestos products. The mechanism that introduces cancer causing asbestos fibers into the peritoneum is not fully understood. It’s believed that the fibers enter either through the digestive tract after accidental ingestion, or through the diaphragm after being unintentionally inhaled. Peritoneal mesothelioma causes swelling and tumor development in the peritoneum, obstructing the digestive tract and compromising normal intestinal functions.
Prognosis and recommended treatments for peritoneal mesothelioma rely on the stage of the disease. The disease is described as localized if the malignant cells are confined to the peritoneum, and advanced if the cancer has progressed beyond the mesothelial tissues and into the abdominal organs, or into the lymph nodes or other areas of the body.
Advanced peritoneal mesothelioma is very difficult to contain; its treatment options often carry far greater chances of debilitating, quality of life reducing side effects. Survival lengths with the disease also vary greatly depending on the stage of the cancer, as well as the health, age, and medical background of the patient. The majority of victims do not live for more than a year following diagnosis.
All types of mesothelioma can be better treated and more effectively controlled when diagnosed early, improving both the survival length and the quality of life of the patient. Unfortunately, the general pain, swelling, discomfort and fever that are associated with peritoneal mesothelioma are easily confused with the symptoms of a variety of other diseases. A biopsy, or tissue sample, is the only method which can positively identify the cancer. Any patient who has been exposed to asbestos should describe their history with the substance thoroughly to the examining doctor to ensure a correct diagnosis.
All forms of mesothelioma are terminal. Treatment options are non curative, focusing on reducing pain and discomfort while conscientiously extending the patients’ survival. Several different methods may be used to remove tumors, impede the spread of malignant cells, and relieve pressure and pain due to fluid buildup or swelling. Early diagnosis can have a profound impact on a treatment regimens’ success.
Learn more about treating peritoneal mesothelioma.