Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that is primarily caused by asbestos exposure. It attacks the specialized cells that line the different areas of your body, such as lungs, abdominal cavity, heart, and even testes. Peritoneal mesothelioma, or the type that attacks the lining of the abdomen, is especially dangerous because it is so close to a number of important organs. Although little is known about peritoneal mesothelioma, there are several different treatment options to help you with this disease.
The reason why little is known about this type of cancer is that it is relatively rare-less than 30% of mesothelioma cases each year are peritoneal. There are two parts of the peritoneum, or the lining of the abdomen. The visceral peritoneum covers the internal organs as well as makes up the outside of the intestinal tract. The parietal peritoneum lines the inside of the abdominal cavity itself. These two linings work to secrete special mucus that lubricates the organs so that they do not suffer adverse effects from friction. When cancer strikes, it can cause the mucus-producing cells to overproduce the lubrication, filling the abdominal cavity with fluid that puts pressure on your organs.
If you suspect that you have abdominal mesothelioma, you should speak to a doctor right away since early detection can increase your chance of survival. However, symptoms of this problem include weight gain or loss, pain or swelling in the abdomen, indigestion, nausea, bowel obstruction, and fever.
Doctors will use an MRI machine, CT scan, or x-rays to check for tumors and abnormal nodules in your abdomen. If there is a tumor or mass, your physician will probably take a sample of the tissue so that the lab can perform a biopsy. Additionally, your doctor may choose to perform a peritoneoscopy. During this process, a doctor will give you an anesthetic before making a small incision in your abdomen. He or she will insert a special scope into your body so that the doctor can look around the cavity for tumors.
If you do indeed have peritoneal mesothelioma, there are several processes that you can undergo for treatment. First, you have the normal cancer treatment methods of surgery to remove the tumor, chemotherapy, and radiation, or a mix of the three. Researchers have found that a combination treatment of surgery and chemotherapy at the same time, sometimes with radiation, is most useful for peritoneal mesothelioma.
Sadly, though, doctors do not yet know the best ways to treat this disorder. Thus, you may want to consider participating in a clinical trial for your cancer.