Peritoneal Mesothelioma is a form of mesothelioma cancer that affects the abdominal cavity lining and is found in fewer diagnosed cases than pleural mesothelioma. It accounts for about 10-20% of the all mesothelioma cases and is found in approximately 57.7 percent males and 45.3 percent females, with the average age of 65-69 (based on surveillance, epidemiology and end result findings). The latency period for peritoneal mesothelioma is relatively shorter compared to other asbestos induced ailments, with symptoms manifesting in about 20-30 years after the initial asbestos exposure.
Unfortunately the most common symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma are also symptoms for many other, far less serious conditions. Things as common as fever accompanied by chills, sweating at night and digestive disturbances can be traced to a great number of harmless causes as can unexplained weight loss and general abdominal pain. Less common symptoms include abdominal mass formations and ascites which is the name given to a build-up of abdominal fluid. Given the fact that mesothelioma treatment options are so much greater when the disease is diagnosed in the early stages, anyone with a history of contact with asbestos should always seek immediate medical help if they experience any of these symptoms.
Since the symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma are not very specific, they can be mistaken for other less-serious ailments. Also many peritoneal mesothelioma cases have been incidentally diagnosed when the patient has sought assistance for other health conditions such as pelvic mass and gallbladder. Experienced physicians often point to the fact that most peritoneal mesothelioma patients typically start experiencing its symptoms about six months to two years before the diagnosis. It is difficult for the patients to establish the link between asbestos exposure that has happened decades ago and their current condition.
Similar to other forms of mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma can be challenging to detect. CT findings can help doctors determine the type of clinical peritoneal mesothelioma, i.e. "dry" or "wet," with the help of sophisticated imaging techniques. The dry type peritoneal mesothelioma may show several small masses or a sole localized tumor. In its "wet" form, the images may show tiny nodules but no predominant mass. Unlike pleural mesothelioma, fluid build-up analysis has limited diagnostic virtue in peritoneal mesothelioma. A tissue biopsy procured through laparoscopic exploratory surgery offers more definitive results.
Multi-modality treatment has become a popular form of treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma, since exclusive surgery and intraperitone chemotherapy has shown limited results. Cytoreductive surgery involves removing all visible tumors. Based on the individual case and physician's discretion, surgery can also be combined with radiation, administration of intraperitoneal chemotherapy and/or intra-peritoneal hyperthermic chemotherapy.
There is no staging system exclusive to peritoneal mesothelioma. It follows the standard TNM system, which is the most widely used cancer staging system. The system involves reference to the state of tumor, lymph nodes and metastases, and helps in determining the stage of the cancer. In the first stage category, the most likely discovery is a localized tumor, which can be entirely removed through surgery. The second stage of peritoneal mesothelioma causes the cancer to be restricted within the abdominal cavity on the peritoneal and other organ surfaces. Though a major portion of the tumor can be removed at this stage, it is not possible to get rid of the entire tumor. During stage three, the cancer most likely invades surrounding organs like the liver and colon. In stage four, the disease spreads outside the abdominal cavity and has metalized into other vital organs and the lymph nodes.
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