Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer of the lining around internal organs associated with asbestos exposure, often in the workplace such as at power plants, schools, military installations, shipyards, onboard ships, manufacturing plants, mines and more. It often takes decades for the disease to manifest itself in symptoms, usually leaving its victims with poor prognoses for the future.
While pleural mesothelioma or cancer in the lining that surrounds the lungs, is by far the most common form, certain other rare locations exist. Today we focus on the second most frequently diagnosed form: peritoneal mesothelioma, also called abdominal mesothelioma, which invades the tissue in the lining around the abdomen or stomach area.
Some statistics from the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation: about 250 new cases are diagnosed annually, representing around 10 to 15 percent of all mesothelioma diagnoses made. The Meso Foundation also reports that the disease likely develops after asbestos fibers pass to the abdominal area from either the lungs or the trachea.
Symptoms and Signs
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include:
- Abdominal lumps
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal swelling
- Unexpected weight loss
- Poor appetite
- High white blood cell count
- Excess abdominal fluid
- Spread of fluid to other areas of the body
- Tumor growth
Because peritoneal mesothelioma, like all kinds of mesothelioma, is not normally diagnosed until late stage, treatment is mostly to lessen symptoms, but life may still be lengthened in some cases. Doctors may perform surgical intervention or recommend chemotherapy or radiation.
According to the Meso Foundation, radiation is primarily helpful to reduce the spread of cancer cells at incision sites, while chemotherapy has wider use for peritoneal mesothelioma patients. For example, chemotherapy shrinks associated tumors in around 40 percent of patients, extends lives and lessens the severity of symptoms.
Anyone who experiences these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention, especially if he or she has a history of possible asbestos exposure. Seek legal advice from a lawyer as soon as possible after a diagnosis to learn about potential legal remedies to seek compensation for medical costs, lost wages and pain and suffering.