Peritoneal mesothelioma is a terminal type of cancer that forms in the lining of the abdomen. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral that did not become regulated in the U.S. until the late 1970s, when the International Agency for Research on Cancer confirmed it as a carcinogen. Peritoneal mesothelioma is rare, diagnosed in only about 308 people in the U.S. per year, based on data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 1999 to 2018.
Finding out you have peritoneal mesothelioma is devastating. At Bailey & Glasser, LLP, we are committed to connecting patients and their families to vital information, resources and assistance with a peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis. We are here to help you learn more about your condition, seek financial compensation and move forward with more hope for the future.
What Is Peritoneal Mesothelioma?
Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is caused by ingesting asbestos particles or fibers. When ingested, asbestos does not get filtered out of the body. It instead can become lodged in the peritoneum, or the thin membrane that lines the abdominal cavity. Over the course of time, the asbestos fibers embedded in the abdomen can cause enough irritation, scar tissue and genetic changes to the cells to result in malignant tumors.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is one of four types of mesothelioma. It is the second most common type behind pleural mesothelioma, but still rare. Pleural mesothelioma involves tumor growth in the pleura, or the membrane that lines the lungs. The other two types of mesothelioma are pericardial (the heart membrane) and testicular (the lining of the testes). Peritoneal mesothelioma accounted for 9.9 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses in the last 20 years, according to the CDC.
Is Peritoneal Mesothelioma Fatal?
Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma is regarded as a universally fatal disease. It is an aggressive and terminal type of cancer that does not have a cure. However, hope is available for people who are diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma. Treatments have shown to be effective in extending life expectancies and improving survival rates for patients with this type of cancer. In addition, developing research and clinical trials provide new treatment options for patients every day.
What Is the Prognosis for Peritoneal Mesothelioma?
The median life expectancy for someone at the time of a peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis is about 31 months (source: the National Library of Medicine). The prognosis for peritoneal mesothelioma depends on the individual patient, the stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis, the available treatment options, how well the patient responds to treatment and several other factors. The only way to understand your prognosis is by consulting with your doctor or a mesothelioma specialist.
Can You Prevent Peritoneal Mesothelioma?
The only known way to prevent peritoneal mesothelioma is by avoiding exposure to asbestos. Due to the long latency period of this illness, most patients do not experience symptoms of cancer caused by asbestos for an average of 20-60+ years later. The best way to protect yourself is by recognizing potential sources of asbestos exposure ahead of time and preventing exposure.
For example, wearing a respirator and other protective gear if you have an occupation that puts you at risk of asbestos exposure or during a project that may involve asbestos materials, such as the renovation of an older home, can protect you. If you think your home, building or workplace contains asbestos, contact a professional immediately for the safe and proper removal and disposal of the asbestos material. Never attempt to handle asbestos on your own.
What Are the Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma?
When asbestos infiltrates the peritoneum, it can cause gradual thickening of the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity. As the disease worsens, it can result in an excess buildup of fluid in the abdomen (peritoneal effusion) or tumor growth that places pressure on the internal organs in the abdomen.
When peritoneal mesothelioma has progressed enough to cause noticeable signs and symptoms, a patient may experience:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Chronic or significant stomach pain
- Fluid buildup in the abdomen
- Stomach distention
- Abdominal swelling or bloating
- Sudden or unexplained loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Nausea or vomiting
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Bowel impaction
- Frequent urination
- Rectal bleeding
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Lumps under the skin of the abdomen
- Chronic fatigue
- Night sweats or excessive sweating
The latency period for peritoneal mesothelioma, or the time between asbestos exposure and diagnosis, is significant. It ranges from about 20-60+ years for most patients. This, combined with delayed symptoms, make it difficult to detect and diagnose this type of cancer. If you have symptoms, speak to your doctor or a mesothelioma medical expert.
Are There Treatments for Peritoneal Mesothelioma?
Peritoneal mesothelioma may be incurable, but treatments are available to help improve a patient’s quality of life and life expectancy. The treatments that are appropriate for a patient depend on the specific circumstances, such as the stage of cancer at the time of diagnosis and how far it has spread or metastasized throughout the body. The patient’s age, overall health and several other factors also determine the best treatment plan moving forward.
Common peritoneal mesothelioma treatment options include:
- Surgery to remove cancer tissue from the abdominal region
- Chemotherapy to shrink or kill remaining cancer cells
- HIPEC (hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy), or heated chemotherapy
- Radiation therapy
- Paracentesis to remove a buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity
- Other palliative treatments to improve comfort
- Clinical trials and experimental treatments
With more than one type of treatment (multimodal therapy), a patient can often increase his or her life expectancy. Even if a case of peritoneal mesothelioma is untreatable, palliative and end-of-life care can keep the patient more comfortable and improve quality of life for his or her final weeks or months. Discuss your treatment options with your doctor or oncologist for more information.
Are You Eligible for Compensation for Peritoneal Mesothelioma?
Although nothing can make up for the life-changing diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma, obtaining fair financial compensation could help your family pay for necessary medical treatments and have some peace of mind during this difficult time.
Bailey & Glasser, LLP can connect you to mesothelioma resources and help you achieve the case results that you need from a mesothelioma lawsuit, insurance claim, workers’ compensation claim, veterans claim, asbestos trust fund or another source of financial recovery.
Learn more about your peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis, prognosis and available compensation when you contact us.