The peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare type of mesothelioma that accounts for only 10 to 20 % of all the mesothelioma cases diagnosed, around 3000 cases each year are diagnosed in the United States alone. This cancer develops in the mesothelium cell layer that is a membranous layer in the peritoneum. Peritoneal mesothelioma also is caused by the exposure to asbestos like the all mesothelioma types. Being less common than the pleural type of mesothelioma, peritoneal mesotheliomas have a latency period of 20-30 years after asbestos exposure as compared to the period of 30 to 40 years in the cases of pleural mesothelioma. With a survival time ranging between 7 to 13.5 months it is present with a poor prognosis.
The associated symptoms include the abdominal swelling or pain with the changes in bowel habits for instance diarrhea or constipation. Others include lump formations under the abdominal skin and weight loss of unexplained origin. Nausea, vomiting, fatigue, night sweats or fever are also common. In many cases there might be related cases of anemia.
As may be the case with many patients who present late with generalized symptoms of cachexia and bowel obstruction resulting in severe abdominal pain and malignant ascites that result in abdominal distention due to the progressive growth of the tumor on the peritoneum. The diagnosis of mesothelioma cannot be made generally with the symptoms alone especially in case of peritoneal mesothelioma. The diagnosis in such cases begins with a thorough examination of medical history, physical history that is followed by imaging along with the tests for fluid and tissues of the mesothelioma patients.
Any bodily abnormality is detected by the use of more sophisticated and reliable techniques such as CT scans and X-rays. To confirm the cancer presence the use of tissue biopsy is well accounted in mesothelioma diagnosis. It is a minor surgical procedure that involves the removal of fluid or tissue from the peritoneum.
To check the presence of mesothelioma cells after biopsy, the fluid and tissues are tested in the laboratory. When it is ascertained that the patient is indeed suffering from the peritoneal mesothelioma the doctor and the mesothelioma patient together forms a treatment plan. In the case of peritoneal mesothelioma the progression of the disease is much faster so the diagnosis is in most of the cases made in the later stages of the disease. Here the treatment becomes difficult as the cancer is in the later developmental stages. The doctors typically recommend the mesothelioma patients to get a treatment to combat the cancer and for pain relief.
Common treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma patients may generally include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy as with all types of mesothelioma treatments. The mesothelioma patients may undergo a combination of treatments for peritoneal mesothelioma as there is no known cure for the disease. Participation in clinical trials to alleviate the pain and improvement of quality of life is another approach that mesothelioma patients may opt. These are for patients to test the newer and upcoming drugs for the disease
Many mesothelioma patients try the hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). In this case higher concentrations of the chemotherapy solution are injected directly into the peritoneal cavity immediately after surgery so it is more effective in killing cancer cells in the abdomen than chemotherapy that is given through a venous route. Many a times before surgery, mesothelioma patients may go through radiation therapy to shrink the tumors. Most mesothelioma patients need to have cytoreduction surgery (CRS) that removes as much of the cancerous tissue in the abdomen as possible, thus reducing the “bulk” of the cancer which is also called “debulking” surgery.
Many peritoneal mesothelioma patients may elect to participate in palliative treatment that do not attempt to cure a patient it rather work to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for them.