Straight Talk about Mesothelioma, a blog series created by Michael T. Milano, M.D., Ph.D., a radiation oncology specialist, as a resource for mesothelioma patients and their loved ones.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer in the lining of the abdominal cavity. It accounts for between 10-15% of all mesothelioma cases diagnosed, making it far less common than pleural mesothelioma. The latency period, or the time it takes for symptoms to develop, also tends to be a bit shorter—20 – 30 years for peritoneal mesothelioma versus 30 – 40 years for pleural mesothelioma.
With peritoneal mesothelioma, surgery and chemotherapy alone have not proven to be effective. Many specialists will recommend cytoreductive surgery, essentially a debulking surgery aimed at removing as much as possible of the tumor visible in the peritoneal cavity. Any remaining cancer cells are then treated with an intra-peritoneal chemotherapy drug (or drugs) that can be heated and delivered directly to the affected area. This procedure may also be used in combination with radiation therapy. This will not cure the peritoneal mesothelioma, but it should help to ease the symptoms.
Research is ongoing into new types of treatments and protocols for peritoneal mesothelioma. There are preliminary encouraging results with the chemotherapy drug pemetrexed (Alimta ®) when used together with a platinum-based drug such as Cisplatin.
Next article in this series: “What Can I Expect From My Pericardial Mesothelioma Treatment?”