A Closer Look at Peritoneal Mesothelioma Cancer

Peritoneal Mesothelioma is a kind of cancer that commonly occurs due to increased exposure to asbestos for a long period of time. There are findings that this cancer develops even without asbestos exposure. This type of cancer affects the peritoneum, which is the lining that protects the internal organs of the abdominal cavity. The peritoneum is made up of mesothilial cells which are the cells affected by cancer. It is a rare form of mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma, which is the cancer of the mesothelial cells of the covering of the lungs, is the more common form than the peritoneal mesothelioma.

Asbestos is a material used for insulation, which is resistant to heat and fire. It is used in the construction or engineering of buildings, ships, household appliances and motors. It has been reported that there is a higher incidence of mesothelioma in males because this type of caner is work related. Males are commonly hired for the construction or engineering of buildings, ships, motors and household appliances which causes the increased incidence of mesothelioma in males.


There are three types of asbestos namely the blue, white and brown. These are all linked to cancer which caused asbestos to be banned in many countries such as the UK. Asbestos is made up of tiny fibers that can be breathed into the lung. It then works its way to the pleura irritating and damaging the mesothilial cell. Some asbestos might be coughed up as a defense of the body to get rid of the irritating foreign body that has entered the lung. When this happens the asbestos goes to the mouth and is then swallowed. It then works its way to the internal organs of the abdominal cavity irritating and damaging the peritoneum or the mesothilium, which the tissue made up of mesothelial cells that covers the internal organs. Upon exposure to asbestos, the fibers are deposited in the clothing of the worker. The worker exposed to asbestos spreads it to his family when he gets home through his clothing. This puts the family at high risk to developing mesothelioma since they are also exposed through asbestos.

There are also less common causes of mesothelioma. It has been found out that exposure to radiation can also cause pleural and peritonieal mesothelioma. Thoratast or thorioum dioxide was used in x-ray tests in the 1950s. Exposure to a mineral in turkey, which is called the Zeolite can also cause the cancer mesothelioma. The virus SV40 also known as the simian virus increases the risk of developing mesothelioma. It acts as a co-factor when the person is exposed to another risk factor, amplifying the possibility of developing mesothelioma.

GETTING CHECKED It is not easy to diagnose mesothelioma. There is no specific screening for mesothelioma. People who are high risk to develop mesothelioma should be checked periodically in order to spot mesothelioma at the earliest stage possible so prompt treatment may be done. There are some signs and symptoms the doctors watch out to get further tests to confirm mesothelioma. Pain, swelling tenderness to any area and a possible lump are the common complaints that are considered.

Blood test is then done to evaluate the person's general health. If doctor suspects that the person may have peritoneal mesothelioma, the person may have abdominal x-ray, abdominal CT scan or abdominal MRI scan to check and confirm for swelling and fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Abdoparacentsis or fluid drainage from the abdomen may be done to relieve the swelling and pain around the abdomen and to see if there are malignant or cancerous cells in the fluid. Laparoscopy or biopsy of the abdominal lining or peritoneum may be done, wherein they get a tissue sample of the abdominal lining and check if the mesothelial cells are damaged by cancer.

If these tests confirm that one has peritoneal mesothelioma, it is then evaluated if it has spread to other parts of the body. This is called staging or determining the gravity of the cancer itself. This process is very important to determine what action or treatment will be done. A PET scan may be done to see how the cells are working. PET stands for positron emission tomography. This is done if the peritoneal mesothelioma cancer is treatable through surgery. This shows the extent of spread of the cancer cells to the other parts of the body like the lymph nodes and other organs.


Nathalie Fiset


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