Peritoneal mesothelioma is a disease that occurs in the peritoneum membrane. Before proceeding ahead let’s take a look what the peritoneum membrane is.
The peritoneum membrane is divided into parietal and visceral peritoneum. The visceral peritoneum lines the intestinal tract and the abdominal organs. And the parietal peritoneum envelops the abdominal cavity. These layers protect the internal organs and also secrete fluids that lubricate the organs facilitating easy movement of the organs within the abdominal cavity.
Like in the case of all types of mesothelioma, asbestos is considered to be the main cause for peritoneal mesothelioma. Asbestos can be fatal for the body and can also cause cancer along with other severe diseases.
Asbestos dust causes significant harm when it enters into the body. The dust may enter the body in two ways.
Firstly, it can enter the body through the lungs during breathing. In this case the dust travels through the lymph nodes and reaches the peritoneal cavity. Secondly, it can enter due to involuntary ingestion while working with asbestos.
It can also occur due to the passive inhalation of asbestos dust. This is called Tail Piece Passive exposure. The clothes of a worker who works amidst asbestos traps the dust between the layers of fabric. When these clothes are washed, or used by another person, the asbestos dust enter into that person’s body.
Peritoneal mesothelioma has a very long latency period. It takes the symptoms around 20-30 years to become evident. The symptoms originate only in the final stage of the disease. By the time the disease is diagnosed as peritoneal mesothelioma it will be too late to provide any useful medication.
Another problem relating to the diagnosis of this disease is that its symptoms are similar to some of the more common, and less severe, diseases. Fever, anemia, weight loss, abdominal pain and bowel obstruction are some of these symptoms.
The doctor is therefore more likely to provide an inaccurate diagnosis. It is therefore important to inform the doctor at the earliest about any exposure to asbestos in the past. This will enable the doctor to treat the disease in its early stages.
The type of treatment for the disease will depend on various factors like the severity of the diseases, age of the patient, health of the patient and his/her medical history.
Some of the traditional treatments for peritoneal mesothelioma are radiation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy. Surgery is done only if the tumor has grown in size and is incurable by any other treatment. In chemotherapy, anti-carcinogen drugs are introduced into the body by a pill or a needle.
There has been consistent research going on for developing effective treatments for this disease. Improvements in medical science and related technology have led to the development of few new methods of treatments. Intraoperative photodynamic therapy, immunotherapy and gene therapy are some of the latest methods in the medical field meant to treat this often fatal disease.
Intraoperative photodynamic therapy uses light and drugs to destroy the cancer cells. It is also used for studying the initial stages of mesothelioma. Immunotherapy aims at increasing the immunity of the person’s body. Immunity is the capability of the body to fight against harmful substances. This therapy is also used to strengthen the immunity against cancer cells.
It has also been found that mesothelioma can be cured by rectifying certain genes of the body. For this very purpose, gene therapy is currently being tested with as a possible treatment. Gene therapy helps to rectify the faulty genes of the body, but this process, along with immunotherapy, haven’t been introduced in hospitals yet as they are still under medical scrutiny.
There are many treatments for mesothelioma but no single treatment is capable of curing the patient single handedly. Doctors therefore take a multimodality approach. It means that a combination of many treatments are used instead of a single treatment. There are several factors that determine the type of combination of treatments to be used, and it varies from case to case.