Monday, March 31, 2008

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal Mesothelioma by Todd Going

Peritoneal mesothelioma is one of the deadliest and most painful forms of cancer.

Fortunately it is also one of the rarer forms of a relatively uncommon cancer, though that is small comfort to the thousands of people that must endure it every day.

This terminal condition begins when a person ingests the microscopic jagged asbestos fibers.

Asbestos is a naturally-occurring, fibrous mineral that has been used in fireproofing and insulation for millennia, and even since these ancient times those that worked with asbestos tended to die even earlier than other people did.

During the manufacturing process asbestos fibers are often released into the air, where their light weight and small size allows them to settle in the mouths and throats of anyone nearby, and they can even be carried home where they can contaminate the friends and family of the original worker.

Peritoneal mesothelioma begins when asbestos fibers enter the digestive track and slice through the tissues of the stomach and intestines.

These fibers shred through these organs and protrude through them and puncture the peritoneal mesothelium, the delicate membrane that secretes the lubrication that allows them to move during digestion.

Without this vital lubrication the organs could not process food properly. Some of the symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include:

• Abdominal pain

• Abdominal mass

• Weight loss

• Abnormal bowel function

• Fluid buildup in the abdomen

• Expanding waistline but losing weight

• Blood clots

Unfortunately, peritoneal mesothelioma does not usually present symptoms until it is extremely advanced, and by that time it is usually impossible to treat.

Further complicating diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma is the nature of the disease itself; the symptoms are often confused with less dangerous conditions such as indigestion or heartburn.

Peritoneal mesothelioma is always fatal.

By the time it is diagnosed it is usually so advanced that the only treatment available is to make the victim as comfortable as possible and relieve as much pain as they can.

Most victims usually succumb within six to eight months after diagnosis; a few cases manage to survive longer than a year, but few if any survive longer than five years.

There is hope for victims of peritoneal mesothelioma.

New treatments include photodynamic, gene, angiogenesis, and immunotherapy that could hold the key to turning the tide on this deadly, debilitating, and tragic disease..

by Todd Going

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