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Peritoneal Mesothelioma - Cancer in Abdominal Lining

Aug 17, 2007
There is a particular type of cancer that affects the abdominal lining called peritoneal mesothelioma. Exposure to asbestos and asbestos products is the source of this cancer.

Because it is known to affect the lining of the abdomen called the peritoneal, there are issues related to how well the abdomen is able to protect the organs in the region and how well it is lubricated which enables the organs to shift around and function correctly.

Peritoneal mesothelioma is occasionally known as diffuse peritoneal mesothelioma, which means that the cancer has expanded to surrounding organs. This type of mesothelioma is given credit for approximately ten percent of mesothelioma and is the second most common form of asbestos related mesothelioma. The most common form is called pleural mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma is notorious for having a long latency period where it is silently growing but, not affecting health and functioning. In fact, more often than not, symptoms go decades before they become obvious and this unfortunately means that the disease is in an advanced stage before the symptoms start to appear. Many times this delay in diagnosis negatively impacts the prognosis for the patient.

Sometimes there is an additional interval between symptoms and diagnosis because the first symptoms are so non-specific and so much like other diseases and ailments. More than likely a physician is going to look for less serious causes for symptoms and then by ruling these out, the peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis in ruled in.

Because mesothelioma is rare, a doctor is not likely to think about it unless somewhere in the medical history taking process there has been mention of working in a field associated with asbestos. Thus, it is imperative to inform a doctor about all possible events that might have led to exposure to asbestos.

As with all cancers, there are a variety of symptoms that are particular to the disease, after the general nonspecific early symptoms evolve. The most common symptoms of this cancer are: abdominal pain, frailness or weakness; loss of weight; nausea and vomiting; loss off appetite; abdominal swelling; and bowel obstruction.

There can be a variety of additional symptoms depending on the location of the tumor. These other symptoms can include: breathing difficulties and extreme pain.
There is an assortment of treatment options with more being developed and tested each day.

Thus, the rate of mortality is getting less each year. Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. When the diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma is final, a physician or team will recommend options for the patient.

These options will be founded on variables like: the magnitude of the disease and its' stage of advancement; the general health condition of the patient will be taken into consideration; the patient's medical history; and age.

As mentioned earlier, there are a range of treatment options and one of them is surgery. If surgery is the treatment of choice, the goal will be to focus on removing enough of the peritoneal lining and diseased tissue from the abdomen so the tumor can be removed. The decision to conduct surgery is based on how far advanced the cancer is, how far it has expanded, and the size of the tumor.

How much tissue is to be removed will be determined by how much spreading has occurred. If the cancer has spread to the diaphragm, parts of that may be removed as well as the tumor.

Another form of treatment is radiation therapy which is a process of targeting the part of the body where the tumor resides and trying to annihilate the cancer cells by blasting it with high energy x-rays. Radiation therapy is typically delivered in one of two ways: externally or insertion.

When external radiation is the course of treatment, a machine is aimed at the tumor and radiation is emitted through the body at the tumor. When internal radiation is the course of treatment, plastic tubes carry the radiation to the affected region of the body. It is also possible that a physician may also place drugs into the body through the inserted tubes.

A final type of treatment is chemotherapy which is a process of using a drug or combination of drugs to destroy the cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs, in the form of pills, are taken by mouth.

There may be times when chemotherapy is best delivered intravenously into a muscle or a vein with a needle. With this approach, the cancer drug will penetrate the blood stream and permeate through the body.
About the Author
Tim Dillard is a marketing executive who has worked with some of the largest law firms in America. Dillard is currently the president of Dillard Local Branding (http://www.dlbllc.com), a Houston-based web design, Internet marketing and search engine marketing firm.
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