Peritoneal mesothelioma is cancer that attacks the abdominal lining. While this type of mesothelioma is not as common as pleural mesothelioma, it is diagnosed frequently and more often in males than females. The cancer is caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos.
An individual may have the disease for a long time before they begin exhibiting symptoms. It can take from 30 to 50 years before symptoms may appear. These include pain in the chest as a result of pleural space fluid and shortness of breath as the lungs are pressured by the fluid. Individuals diagnosed with this type of mesothelioma may also experience nausea, loss of appetite, and abdominal swelling. Chances of survival often depend on when the cancer is diagnosed.
The earlier this type of mesothelioma is diagnosed, the higher the likelihood of survival. This is a difficult cancer to diagnose. There is no system available for defining or differentiating between the stages of the cancer. Some oncologists have had success using the TNM staging system to identify and diagnose the cancer in the early stages.
This type of mesothelioma is usually caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is found in many places and often, an individual doesn’t realize they’ve been exposed. Asbestos fibers are the primary culprit and these fibers may either be breathed in or ingested. The fibers become trapped and eventually may result in cancerous growths.
When diagnosed in the early stages, it is possible to treat this type of mesothelioma with chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. When discovered in the early stages, aggressive treatment has about a 50 percent success rate of the individual living another two years. This rate drops to 20 percent for five years. Most patients with this type of cancer will not live a year. This is one a very aggressive cancer and is not easily treated in the later stages.
One of the difficulties in diagnosing this cancer is that the patient may not recognize the symptoms for what they are. Early on, symptoms can resemble the flu and include vomiting and nausea, fever, and abdominal pain. The patient may also experience a chance in bowel movement as this cancer moves downward. If it moves upward, the patient may develop respiratory issues. The cancer often produces an abdominal mass which can place pressure on the nerves and cause intense pain.
Other symptoms of more advanced stages of this cancer include abdominal swelling and weight loss. When these occur, it is often too late for any effective treatment because the cancer is spread. Patients with this type of mesothelioma may also experience fatigue, anemia, and fever. Some people may begin experiencing symptoms as early as two years before they are diagnosed.
This is one of the most aggressive forms of mesothelioma. The symptoms take so long to appear that the cancer is often too advanced for successful treatment. Individuals exposed to asbestos at any point in their life should be aware of the possibility of developing some type of mesothelioma. Peritoneal mesothelioma can be diagnosed through routine screening. When caught early, chances of survival increase.