There are different types of cancer, all occurring in, and affecting different parts of the human body. Lung cancer still remains one of the most common, with smoking and asbestos the leading causes. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer caused by breathing in or ingesting asbestos fibres. When cancer cells develop in the lining of the stomach it is called Peritoneal mesothelioma.
What Causes it and who is affected?
This type of cancer is most common in older men, usually over sixty years of age. The cancer takes between 20 and 50 years to develop and is caused by exposure to asbestos and asbestos containing materials. Asbestos used to be commonly used as an insulator and roofing materials so most sufferers would have worked in the construction industry. Some veterans are also affected by peritoneal mesothelioma.
What Are the symptoms and how is it diagnosed?
As with every other form of cancer, diagnosis is not straightforward. Misdiagnosis is common and it may take several visits to a doctor for cancer to be found. Sufferers usually present symptoms such as the following:
● Swelling of the abdomen
● abdominal pain
● Bowel problems
● Fatigue and nausea
● Build up of fluid
● Blood clots
As is often the case mesothelioma is usually misdiagnosed as other common ailments. Fortunately the disease rarely spreads to the lymph nodes and other organs of the body.
X-rays are the most effective tool for diagnosing Peritoneal mesothelioma. CT scans or MRI often miss it and lead to misdiagnosis. Confirmation of diagnosis is usually via sampling the cancerous growth.
Treatment and Prognosis
There are a number of treatment options available for someone suffering from Peritoneal mesothelioma. The methods recommended in each case are dependent on the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed. The options include:
1. Cytoreduction surgery – the most common option for stage 1 or 2 diagnoses. It involves cutting off the bulk of the cancerous growth and may involve removing part of the stomach lining.
2. Heated Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy is a form of chemo commonly conducted after cytoreduction surgery to kill off any remaining cancer cells
3. Chemotherapy – several cycles of chemotherapy are applied, usually when the cancer cells have spread. Alimta and cisplatin are the drugs commonly used in the treatment of this type of mesothelioma
4. Radiation treatment is also an option but there are very few cases of mesothelioma eradication using radiation alone. Therefore it is not a very effective treatment on its own but when applied together with cytoreduction for example may provide better results
A cure for Peritoneal mesothelioma does not yet exist but treatment has been shown to increase the chances of survival. Patients who opt for non surgery options face a prognosis of up to a year. With surgery and chemotherapy survivability increases by up to nearly five years or more.
As advances in medicine and cancer research gather pace, the chances of survival continue to increase. Asbestos has been outlawed for general use and the cases of mesothelioma will eventually drop.