For victims of peritoneal mesothelioma, prognosis is generally poor-with an average predicted survival of only four to 12 months after diagnosis. Peritoneal makes up only between 10 and 20 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses in the U.S. each year; it is the second most common form of the disease, after the pleural variety (which comprises as many as 80 percent of all cases or more).
Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the protective lining that covers the stomach and abdominal cavity. Called the peritoneum, this thin layer of mesothelial tissue is susceptible to damage caused by ingested asbestos fibers, which can ultimately result in the formation of scar tissue and tumors. If malignant cells form within the region, the diagnosis made is peritoneal mesothelioma-a rare but aggressive form of cancer caused primarily by exposure to asbestos.
Peritoneal mesothelioma fluid often causes an accumulation of excess fluid in the abdominal region, which results in abdominal swelling and discomfort. For many victims, this effusion is the first noticeable sign that something is wrong. Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms most often reported include stomach pain, nausea with or without vomiting and significant weight loss. Other warning signs seen in some patients are: bowel disturbances, fatigue, otherwise unexplained anemia and night sweats.
Patients experiencing such symptoms may be given a chest x-ray or lung function test, followed by a CT scan or MRI. Conclusive diagnosis generally requires a biopsy to examine tissue for the definitive presence of malignant cells.
The poor peritoneal mesothelioma prognosis given to most patients is largely attributable to the limited efficacy of traditional treatment measures against advanced forms of the disease.Sadly, by the time most victims are diagnosed, the cancer has already progressed-often having spread to areas outside the peritoneal region. Once the cancer is no longer localized, surgical removal is not possible, significantly reducing the potential for successful treatment.
Mesothelioma caught in the early stages may hold hope for remission, if the cancer responds well to one or a combination of the most traditional treatment modalities-chemo therapy, radiation therapy and surgical intervention. Some alternative mesothelioma treatment methods may also be used as complementary or palliative therapies.
The stage of one’s cancer is usually the primary factor influencing an individual peritoneal mesothelioma prognosis. Other variables that play a role include the cell type of the cancer and the overall state of the patient’s health. Of course, response to treatment is also a determinant of any mesothelioma prognosis; doctors will typically use statistical data gathered from others whose cancer is similar in nature to the patient’s in order to make an educated prediction about how he or she is likely to respond.