Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of the abdominal cavity. The peritoneum is a membranous layer comprising the parietal and visceral layers protecting the abdominal cavity and abdominal organs. There are four categories that will determine the stage of the mesothelioma. Category one shows a solitary tumor which can be removed. The second indicates that the cancer is already within the abdominal cavity. The third category evinces the invasion of other organs like colon and liver. The final one shows complete penetration of cancer to the outside abdominal cavity.
In diagnosing peritoneal mesothelioma, there will be the usual physical examination and imaging tests like x-rays and CT scan. Likewise, there is a need to extract fluid or tissue from the peritoneum to check if it is indeed malignant. The findings will reveal whether the mesothelioma is dry or wet. If the result of the examination yields to a dry-type cancer, it means that there are multiple small masses or only one dominant localized mass. There will be small amount of ascites or none at all. Ascites refers to the accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity. But if the cancer is wet-type, there will be small nodules and the ascites is apparent. In the latter case, the fluid will be removed through paracentesis.
There are two supporting theories behind the role of asbestos to the development of peritoneal mesothelioma. The first theory provides that when the asbestos fibers are absorbed by the body, they pass through the digestive organs all the way to the peritoneal membrane. The second theory explains that when asbestos fibers draw deep into the lungs, they work their way to the peritoneal membrane through the lymphatic system. But irrespective of the manner the asbestos gains access to the peritoneal layers, the fibers are stuck in the membrane and gradually cause damage to the mesothelial cells of the peritoneum.
There is no known cure for peritoneal mesothelioma. But specialists have introduced intraperitoneal chemotherapy, an innovative treatment which gives better result than the normal mesothelioma surgery. This is done usually after debulking surgery which involves the removal of all the tumors in the area. Still, the prognosis may not be good. However, for possible long term survival, the patients must have a complete cytoreduction. It means that there should be no peritoneal seeding and the nodules must be less than 2.5 centimeters. Otherwise, clinical trials for palliative treatment to lessen the pain will be the alternative.