Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer that starts in the lining of the abdomen. It develops 20-50 years after inhaling asbestos fibers. These fibers cannot be digested by the body and may cause serious irritation to healthy tissue. Thankfully, peritoneal mesothelioma is very responsive to treatment.
What is Peritoneal Mesothelioma?
It can be very difficult to know that you or a loved one has peritoneal mesothelioma. Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of the abdomen. It is one of the most common types of mesothelioma, making up 20% of all cases.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is always caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they cause long-term damage to the human body.
Mesothelioma develops 20-50 after this exposure takes place. Because of this, the symptoms of mesothelioma appear slowly and worsen as the disease progresses.
Common symptoms include:
- Abdominal swelling
- Chest pain
- Loss of appetite
There is no cure for peritoneal mesothelioma. However, it responds better to treatments than any other type of mesothelioma.
For patients who are healthy enough, surgery along with chemotherapy can greatly extend their lifespan. Today, patients with peritoneal mesothelioma can live for several years after they are first diagnosed.
That being said, the care costs associated with peritoneal mesothelioma are very high. Even with insurance, you still may have to pay thousands of dollars a month. This can be a huge burden on you and your family.
You may be able to file a mesothelioma legal claim to cover these costs. A mesothelioma legal claim seeks compensation from those who made asbestos-based products.
To increase your chances of legal success, work with an experienced mesothelioma law firm. Sokolove Law has over 40 years of experience in handling legal claims. To learn how we can help you, call (800) 647-3434 or contact us today.
What Causes Peritoneal Mesothelioma?
Peritoneal mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. When products made with asbestos are damaged, they release tiny fibers into the nearby air.
Many manufacturers of asbestos-containing products knew their goods could cause serious health issues, but continued to make their products anyway. Today, mesothelioma law firms help victims get compensation for this corporate greed.
Once inside the body, asbestos fibers may get stuck in the peritoneum. The peritoneum is a layer of tissue that protects organs like the stomach, large intestine, and small intestine.
The fibers cannot be broken down by the human body, so they can cause continuous damage for years. Over time, this damage may cause abdominal scarring and mutations to the cells. Cellular mutations can lead to the formation of cancer tumors.
Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma start out mildly, but gradually worsen as the cancer spreads. The symptoms are also present in diseases like irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease. Because of this, peritoneal mesothelioma is hard to catch early on.
Early symptoms include:
- Abdominal swelling
- Chest pain and fluid buildup
- Digestion and bowel movement issues
- Loss of appetite
As the cancer spreads, more serious symptoms will appear.
Later symptoms include:
- Fever and night sweats
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight loss that cannot be explained
If you suspect that peritoneal mesothelioma is causing your symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible. In many cases, the cancer has started to spread once symptoms have worsened. This could limit what treatment options are available to you.
Diagnosing Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Because the symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma are so vague, doctors will use a series of tests to rule out more common conditions.
Doctors will first conduct a physical examination of your body. Based on your symptoms, doctors will listen to your chest for fluid buildup and check for abdominal pain.
They will also review your medical history. Be sure to tell your doctor about any history of asbestos exposure. Since mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure, this information is a key part of a correct diagnosis.
Doctors will then use imaging scans to look inside the abdomen. These scans check for indicators of cancer, such as thickening of the abdomen lining and cancerous tumors.
Commonly used tests include:
- CT scans
- MRI scans
- X-Ray scans
Doctors may also use blood biomarker tests. Biomarkers are substances that could indicate if you have a certain disease. Research suggests that mesothelioma patients have higher levels of peptides (amino acid compounds) in their blood than those without.
These tests alone are helpful in narrowing down the cause of your symptoms. However, the only way to officially diagnose mesothelioma is through a biopsy. A biopsy is a sample of fluid or tissue from a suspected cancerous mass.
An oncologist (cancer doctor) or mesothelioma specialist will extract a tissue sample and analyze it in a lab. They can make a formal mesothelioma diagnosis if cancer cells are present.
Treatments for Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Treatments for peritoneal mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. The most effective treatment usually combines 2 or more of these treatments for the best results.
Some of the treatments require a long recovery period and may also have uncomfortable side effects. Because of this, patients with late-stage mesothelioma may not qualify for some treatments. However, there are treatments available for patients at any stage to manage their symptoms.
Cytoreduction with HIPEC is the most commonly used surgery for peritoneal mesothelioma. It is only performed by doctors who specialize in mesothelioma treatment.
The specialist will first remove the peritoneum and all cancerous tumors they can see from the abdomen. Once the tumors are removed, the abdomen is bathed with heated chemotherapy drugs. These drugs kill microscopic cancer cells that surgery could not remove.
The benefits of this surgery are enormous. Cytoreduction with HIPEC has the potential to extend the lifespan by several years for some. A handful of patients have achieved survival rates ranging from 5-10 years.
This treatment takes 10-12 hours to complete, and patients usually need several months to recover from it. There is a risk of complications or illness stemming from this surgery, too.
Because of these health concerns, patients may not be able to safely undergo this surgery if their cancer has spread through the body. However, late-stage patients can still receive less aggressive surgery to reduce the size of tumors and fluid buildup.
HIPEC is the most commonly used form of chemotherapy used to treat peritoneal mesothelioma. HIPEC is used in combination with cytoreductive surgery, which removes cancerous tumors and growths.
HIPEC bathes the abdomen and the internal organs in chemotherapy drugs for around 90 minutes. This direct exposure to the cancer site makes it more effective than other forms of chemotherapy. The drugs are also heated up to increase their strength.
Standard forms of chemotherapy may still be used in patients with advanced mesothelioma to reduce the size of tumors. Chemotherapy can be administered orally or intravenously in these cases.
Radiation is sometimes used for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma. In these cases, radiation is used alongside other forms of treatment like surgery. Radiation uses high-energy waves to scramble the DNA of cells, killing them.
Radiation is often used before surgery to make tumors easier to remove. It may also be used as a follow-up to surgeries. Doctors must be careful with the amount of radiation used, as it affects both cancer cells and nearby healthy cells.
Getting Help for Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Peritoneal mesothelioma can bring a lot of stress to you and your loved ones. The disease is challenging to diagnose and treat. That being said, you have options no matter how far the disease has spread.
By pursuing medical care from mesothelioma specialists, you have a better chance of a longer survival. Mesothelioma specialists know how to provide the best treatments for your case. If your cancer is caught and treated early on, you may be able to survive for years after your initial diagnosis.
Mesothelioma does not just present medical hurdles, though. Because this form of cancer is very rare and aggressive, treatments can often be expensive.
Sometimes your health insurance will not cover the costs of the care you need. Even with copays, the costs may be very high. In addition, patients or loved ones often stop working to focus on healing.
A mesothelioma claim seeks financial compensation from the makers of asbestos products. These companies used asbestos even when they knew the health risks. Thousands of people have come forward and pursued successful claims against these companies.