Saturday, March 07, 2009

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the peritoneum, which is the lining of our abdominal cavity. This type of mesothelioma is not as common as pleural mesothelioma is. Pleural mesothelioma is found more in males than females. The chances of getting the disease become more if you work in places or industries where you are exposed to asbestos. The reason behind this is that the tiny fibres of asbestos reach the digestive system through the mouth cavity and esophagus where they affect the peritoneum (the lining that surrounds the abdomen).

Peritoneal mesothelioma, like other types of mesothelioma, doesn’t have any peculiar symptoms which may point directly towards the problem. Among the various symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma abdominal ache, fatigue, building up of fluid in the peritoneum, anemia, fever and weight loss, are some common ones. The symptoms occur much later than the start of the disease. Most often the symptoms are mistaken for other common ailments like hernia or gall bladder stone etc. The presence of fluid can be diagnosed through a process called paracentesis.

To know the stage of the tumor the TNM system is used. The system shows the size and spread of the tumor. Along with the TNM system, there are some categories which support in determining the stage of the cancer. In the first category, the tumor is localized and so can be removed surgically. The second category shows the tumor restricted to the peritoneal surface in the abdominal cavity. This can be removed by debulking. Peritoneal mesothelioma in the third category reflects that the tumor has invaded other nearby organs, but it is still contained within the abdominal cavity. If the tumor is in its fourth stage then it shows that it has spread even outside the abdominal cavity.

Once the process of diagnosis is over and it is confirmed that the symptoms are due to peritoneal mesothelioma, then the treatment process starts. There are a few treatment options available to doctors; surgical removal of the tumor or intraperitoneal chemotherapy is one of them. It has been an established fact that only one process of the treatment fails to eradicate the problem. It reoccurs again and again. To make the patient survive for long, a combination of both the therapies is considered the ideal solution.

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