It’s hard enough when you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma. It’s even harder when you’re diagnosed with a rare form of the disease. Peritoneal mesothelioma affects about 30% of individuals diagnosed. The only known cause at this time is exposure to hazardous asbestos materials.
Most asbestos fibers tend to get inhaled and lodged into the lining of the lungs, which is known as pleural mesothelioma. Experts believe peritoneal mesothelioma can form in two ways. The first is through inhalation. Once inhaled, the fibers move through the lymphatic system and into the abdominal lining or the peritoneum. The second is by swallowing the asbestos fibers. Once ingested, the fibers move into the intestinal tract and get absorbed into the tissue surrounding the abdominal.
Regardless of how the fibers reach the abdomen, peritoneal mesothelioma is an aggressive and deadly form of cancer. Their presence in the abdominal area causes inflammation and can eventually form cancerous tumors.
The three primary types of tumors are:
- Dry (the most common): one large or several small masses are seen.
- Wet: accumulation of fluid build-up and swelling, no solid masses but small nodules and plaques are visible.
- Mixed: a combination of both fluid build-up and solid masses are evident.
Misdiagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma is common because it closely mimics stomach and abdominal discomfort or hernias. When presenting symptoms to your doctor it is important to mention your occupational exposure to asbestos, even if it occurred many years ago. This information could speed up the process of diagnosing you correctly.
Here are some signs and symptoms you should be aware of:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Continuous fluid build-up
- Severe abdominal pain and swelling
- Visible abscess protruding from the abdomen
Similar to other types of mesothelioma, symptoms may vary with each person depending on the location/size of the tumor and your overall health (age, weight, disease history, etc.).
Once you are diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, treatments are available to relieve pain and suffering. However, many people live for less than a year after diagnosis. In cases where fluid has accumulated in the abdomen, paracentesis may be performed to drain the excess fluid from the abdomen. If the disease is diagnosed at an early stage, you may be eligible for surgery, which could potentially add years to the initial prognosis. Chemotherapy/radiation is also available and is the most common treatment for mesothelioma disease. You may also want to look into clinical trials being conducted for mesothelioma.
Doctors and researchers are eager to find a cure and continue to make strides towards finding a way to prolong the life of individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma. Keep yourself informed and up to date with the latest treatments and make sure you have regular checkups with your doctor to discuss all options available.
To find out more about mesothelioma treatment options, your mesothelioma lawsuit and other legal rights, contact the mesothelioma law firm of Cooney & Conway today.