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Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

The type of cancer affecting the abdominal lining (also called the ‘peritoneum’) is known as peritoneal mesothelioma. The peritoneum is the thin membrane that serves as a protective covering for the abdominal cavity. This lining is important to how the body functions because it secretes the fluid that allows organs to move against one another. The mesothelium is filled with cells that help create fluid. With this type of cancer, the cells overproduce and create excess fluid buildup in the abdomen.

Peritoneal mesothelioma is a very rare cancer. Most researchers conclude that this type of cancer is caused by asbestos related exposure in a person’s lifetime. There are two ways that distinguishes peritoneal mesothelioma as an asbestos related cancer. First, asbestos fibers become ingested, lodged in the digestive tract, and work their way into the peritoneal cavity. Second, and most dangerously, they can be inhaled through the lymph node system, making their way to the peritoneal cavity.

Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma

This type of cancer mainly affects the abdominal area and the lining that surrounds it. Most of the symptoms are focused around that general area. Patients experiencing the following symptoms should contact their physician as soon as possible: pain/swelling in the abdomen, bowl obstruction, anemia, fever, and weight loss. Most of these symptom are accompanied with other, less severe symptoms. The most prevalent indication of a problem that could be asbestos related is pain within the abdominal cavity. This could be caused by either a tumor growth or fluid retention that needs immediate assistance. The blockage of the small or large intestine can also cause discomfort with bowl movements and comfort while sitting and sleeping.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Diagnosis and treatment

The diagnosis of this type of cancer closely resembles the procedure for other mesothelioma cases. The first part of diagnosis begins with a complete review of the patient’s medical history and a complete physical. To gain a better look at the problems within the abdominal area, the doctor may request certain tests/scans such as an MRI, or an x-ray of the chest or abdomen region. This helps the doctors better determine the size and location of the tumor. Since this cancer causes a build up of fluid within the abdominal cavity, it may be necessary to perform a fine needle aspiration. This allows the doctor to obtain a sample of fluid for testing. Fine needle aspiration can also be used for relieving some of the pain associated with the swelling by draining excess fluid. Since tumor growth is prevalent within this type of cancer, it is important for the doctor to perform a biopsy to retain a sample of the growth within the abdomen. This type of testing allows the doctor to better determine how to move forward with treatment.

Treatment depends on the stage of the cancer, overall health, and the any other health complication that the patient may have. The most widely used methods of removing and possibly eliminating the cancerous cells is through surgery, chemotherapy, and palliative care. Some patients are diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in too late of a stage to undergo all or even some of these treatments.