The Facts about Peritoneal Mesothelioma
What Is Peritoneal mesothelioma?
Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare form of mesothelioma that accounts for approximately 20% of all mesothelioma cases. Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the tissue lining the abdomen which is called the peritoneum hence the name of this form of the cancer. The peritoneum protects the contents of the abdomen and is therefore very important.
Currently, only one cause of peritoneal mesothelioma is known and this is exposure to asbestos dust and fibres. Only a couple of months of exposure to asbestos without sufficient protection can lead to peritoneal mesothelioma thirty to fifty years later. Those suffering from peritoneal mesothelioma are mostly elderly men who worked amongst asbestos decades ago when workers were not protected from asbestos dust. Many of these men are currently lodging multi-million dollar lawsuits against the companies who exposed them to asbestos. Asbestos fibres can get into the peritoneum in two different ways. The most common way they reach the peritoneum is by them getting trapped in the trachea (windpipe) and bronchi (inside the lungs) by mucus and end up being swallowed. From here they can pass through the intestine wall into the peritoneum. The second way in which asbestos fibres can reach the peritoneum is by them lodging inside the lungs. They then move into the lymphatic system and get transported to the peritoneum. Constant exposure to asbestos leads to a great number of fibres being built up in the peritoneum.
The symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma are generally only felt when the cancer has developed greatly. The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, weight loss, abdominal pains and loss of appetite. As the cancer matures, the symptoms will become more pronounced and severe.
There are several treatments for peritoneal mesothelioma although all of them have a poor success rate. The likelihood of a patient surviving depends on how early and aggressively the cancer is treated. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery are the most commonly used methods of treatment. Research into the treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma is being conducted in research stations in the United States and by many pharmaceutical companies.