Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that develops in the peritoneum, the layer of protective membrane that lines the abdominal cavity. It is one of four types of mesothelioma, all of which are types of cancer that develop in various parts of the mesothelium (which lines the peritoneal membrane). Mesothelioma is often associated with prolonged exposure to asbestos and most frequently develops in individuals who worked with asbestos or in environments where asbestos was present.
Mesothelioma has a latency period of 20 to 50 years. This means that an individual can be exposed to asbestos and not experience symptoms of mesothelioma until decades later. Because asbestos was used heavily during most of the 20th century, many individuals who spent their careers handling the mineral and being exposed to it are only now discovering that they are suffering from mesothelioma. As an experienced Sacramento mesothelioma and asbestos lawyer, I am here for those individuals. I understand the difficulties that mesothelioma patients and their families face and I work hard to help them seek the compensation they deserve for their damages relating to this disease.What Causes Peritoneal Mesothelioma?
In most patients, asbestos enters the body through the respiratory system. When asbestos is in its powder form, it is at its most dangerous because it can easily be inhaled.
Asbestos fibers can reach the peritoneum in two ways:
- Powdered asbestos can be inhaled and reach the peritoneum by way of the lymphatic system, which is the network of tissue and organs that transports lymph, the fluid that contains white blood cells, throughout the body to rid it of toxins; and
- Swallowed asbestos fibers that can reach the peritoneum through the digestive system. Often, individuals do not even realize they have swallowed asbestos particles – microscopic particles can fall or be blown into an individual’s immediate environment, contaminating food.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most prevalent type of mesothelioma diagnosed in the United States, behind pleural mesothelioma, the first most prevalent form. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of the new mesothelioma cases diagnosed each year are peritoneal mesothelioma.
The prognosis for peritoneal mesothelioma tends to be a little better than other types of mesothelioma, but it is important to remember that there are a few factors at play when determining a prognosis. The average prognosis for peritoneal mesothelioma is six months to one year, but can be longer depending on the stage at which it is caught and the patient’s general health. As with all types of cancer, the stage at which peritoneal mesothelioma is caught not only impacts the patient’s prognosis, but his or her treatment options as well. Peritoneal mesothelioma is diagnosed primarily with image scanning and biopsies.
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include the following:
- Unexplained weight loss;
- Diarrhea or constipation;
- Abdominal swelling and pain;
- Vomiting; and
- Fever and night sweats.
If you experience these symptoms and/or you have a history of asbestos exposure, discuss the possibility of mesothelioma with your doctor. Peritoneal Mesothelioma is so rare that it can be easily misdiagnosed. Help your doctor by providing all the relevant information you have.Treating Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Peritoneal mesothelioma can be treated in a few ways. These include:
- Debulking surgery: This is the surgical removal of part of a cancerous tumor it is utilized in cases where the entire tumor cannot be removed because doing so would harm the organ where the tumor has developed. (In many cases, debulking surgery is performed as preparation for chemotherapy or radiation therapy);
- Chemotherapy: Is the use of drugs to attack and eliminate cancer cells in the body. (It is systemic rather than localized)
- Radiation therapy : Is the use of targeted radiation to kill cancer cells. It can be used to shrink tumors and keep them from growing rapidly; and
- Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). Unlike traditional chemotherapy, HIPEC is a hyperlocalized, heated form of chemotherapy that is used directly on the peritoneum during surgery. HIPEC has shown significant promise as an effective tool for treating peritoneal mesothelioma and has been linked to greater survival rates.
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento mesothelioma attorney. If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, or if you’ve recently lost a loved one because of this tragic disease, please give me a call at 916.921.6400 for free, friendly advice. I can also be contacted by using this online form.
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Image Attribution: Wikimedia Commons - Stevenfruitsmaak