Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common form of a fatal type of cancer that affects the lining of the stomach and abdominal cavity. About 10 to 20 percent of overall mesothelioma diagnoses are made in this anatomical region, most likely caused by the accidental ingestion of asbestos fibers.
In it’s early stages and development, which can last for several decades, mesothelioma usually does not have any noticeable symptoms. In the case of the peritoneal variety, symptoms—when they do appear—are primarily a result of fluid accumulation in the abdominal region, which has often also resulted in significant abdominal swelling. For some people, this is the first noticeable sign that something is wrong.
For others, pain in or around the stomach is an initial indicator. Digestive disruptions and weight loss are also not uncommon symptoms for victims of peritoneal mesothelioma.
Unlike other forms of mesothelioma cancer, the peritoneal variety does not have a designated staging system, though some doctors and hospitals may choose to use the common TNM system to assign measures of progression.
The treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma is generally considered to be a difficult and often futile endeavor. Sadly, by the time this particular illness is caught and conclusively diagnosed, too much time has already been lost.
The long development period of malignant mesothelioma, as well as its difficult-to-attribute symptoms, make it a diagnostic challenge for patients and doctors alike. Additionally, broad screening methods for mesothelioma are practically non-existent, though cancer research centers are currently in the process of developing and improving blood tests that can help detect its early presence.
Once peritoneal mesothelioma has been diagnosed, via a biopsy of affected tissue, treatment should be started immediately.
Surgery is generally considered to be the best option for treating cancer, by effectively removing it—or at least the tumor from which it originated. Affected surrounding tissue must also be removed in order for the surgery to be effective.
Unfortunately, when cancer has spread to other parts of the body, surgery is not usually a viable treatment option. In these cases, different types of drug therapy or radiation will usually be used in attempting the eradication of cancer cells without physically removing the tissue that they inhabit.
Even in most surgery cases, chemotherapy is also used to attack any malignant cells that may have been left after the procedure.
The problem with the most common of the non-surgical modalities, including chemo and radiation, is that they tend to kill healthy as well as cancerous cells and are ultimately minimally effective in treating aggressive or advanced forms of cancer.