Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survivors

Quick Summary

Out of the three main mesothelioma locations, peritoneal mesothelioma presents the best prognosis. Although long-term survival stories are still not as common as we’d like them to be, they’re becoming more frequent.

Peritoneal mesothelioma patients are surpassing their predicted life experiences due to breakthroughs and developments in treatment. A combination of healthy living, a good diet, multimodal therapy, and appropriate surgery can have an immensely positive influence on survival times.

Before becoming too invested in your prognosis, always have a mesothelioma specialist take a second look. An analysis by a knowledgeable and practiced peritoneal mesothelioma specialist will likely be much more accurate than one by a general oncologist. These expert doctors can provide a clearer vision of what you can do —and which treatments you should receive—to increase the likelihood of you outliving your prognosis.

What is Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survival?

When discussing peritoneal mesothelioma or other types of cancer, “survival” does not mean the same thing as “cured.” Because doctors cannot be entirely certain that mesothelioma is completely gone or that it won’t come back, they are reluctant to use the term “cured.” Rather, mesothelioma is considered to be currently incurable.

Instead of looking at survival as being cured, survivorship is discussed in terms of remission. A patient can be in partial remission, meaning their tumor has shrunk in size or at least stopped growing. Patients in partial remission can survive for years without their cancer spreading; the tumors are monitored regularly by their doctors.  Alternatively, patients can be in complete remission, meaning that all evidence of the cancer is gone.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Update

All patients who achieve partial or complete remission will attend follow-up sessions with their doctor. These visits will be more frequent for patients who have been in remission for longer periods of time. At the appointments, the doctor will run tests to scan for mesothelioma. If mesothelioma is detected, further treatment will be needed.

Although patients in partial remission are more likely to see a re-emergence of cancer, recurrence can happen to anyone with mesothelioma, including those in complete remission. Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer, so it often comes back even after remission. Still, it is possible for patients to achieve remission again.

Luckily, doctors have hope for the future of mesothelioma treatment. Their hope is that more and more patients will be able to send their cancer into remission. Beyond that, patients will be able to treat peritoneal mesothelioma in the same way that diabetes or other chronic illnesses are managed.

Treatments for Achieving Peritoneal Mesothelioma Remission

Peritoneal mesothelioma patients have outlived their prognoses via a variety of different paths, highlighting once again that no two patients are the same.

Some of the undertakings by peritoneal mesothelioma survivors include:

However, for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma, the best likelihood of putting the cancer into remission is through cytoreductive surgery combined with HIPEC (Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy). This is a promising treatment that combines surgery with chemotherapy to target the mesothelioma. In this procedure, an ultra-concentrated solution of heated chemotherapy drugs are administered directly into the abdomen during cytoreductive surgery. While systemic chemotherapy is circulated throughout a patient’s body, heated chemotherapy is much more direct.

The drugs are applied right to the site of the cancer in the peritoneum. Because the solution is so highly concentrated, larger doses can be administered. The heating of the solution allows it to be better absorbed, preventing the cytotoxic (cell-killing) drugs from harming healthy tissue. The solution is circulated throughout the abdomen and drained before the surgery is completed.

HIPEC allows chemotherapeutic agents to kill microscopic mesothelioma cells that might have been missed in the surgery. As a result, it is impressively effective in improving the prognosis for peritoneal mesothelioma patients. In fact, an expansive multi-institutional study from 2009 concluded that the combination of cytoreduction with HIPEC resulted in extended survival for select patients with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma.

A few of the reasons HIPEC is effective in achieving peritoneal mesothelioma remission include:

  • Ability to administer higher doses of chemotherapy without necessarily increasing side effects
  • Concentrated chemotherapy in a localized area
  • Increased absorption within the abdomen
  • Improved responsiveness of cancerous cells to treatment

Some of the surgical procedures used in combination with HIPEC are:

  • Anterior parietal peritonectomy (front of the stomach)
  • Left upper quadrant peritonectomy (visceral peritoneum fold and spleen)
  • Right upper quadrant peritonectomy (liver)
  • Pelvic peritonectomy (portions of uterus, ovaries, and intestines)
  • Omental bursectomy (portions of the gallbladder and peritoneum)

The combination of cytoreduction and HIPEC is also effective due to the surgical removal of cells that may be resistant to chemotherapy. This treatment combination allows each therapy type to partially make up for the limitations of the other one. However, not all peritoneal mesothelioma patients will qualify for cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC. Your doctor can inform you of whether you may be a candidate.

Other Ways to Increase Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survival

While HIPEC offers the most conclusive evidence of extending survival for peritoneal mesothelioma patients, some patients and survivors have found positive results in the addition of supplementary therapies. Some choose to explore alternative therapies in addition to their doctors’ recommendations. While these are not proven methods, they can sometimes help you improve your general health and mental outlook which can, in turn, have a positive impact on your experience with mesothelioma. When considering your general health, there are some common themes you should keep in mind.

These include:

  • Getting enough rest
  • Eating a healthy, wholesome diet
  • Staying fit
  • Keeping your immune system strong
  • Avoiding stress
  • Quitting smoking

If you want to start living a healthier lifestyle to try to improve your prognosis, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can provide you with recommendations on how you can improve your day-to-day habits. Seeing a nutritionist can also be helpful in formulating a personalized, nutritious diet that you’ll not only benefit from but enjoy.

Specialized Care for Peritoneal Mesothelioma Survival

We want to re-emphasize that one of the most important steps you can take to improving your peritoneal mesothelioma prognosis is to find a specialist to speak with. Peritoneal mesothelioma specialists are deeply informed with the latest knowledge about the disease and the most current standards for treatment. Because mesothelioma has been off-the-radar for many years due to its uncommonness and the limited knowledge about it, general oncologists may not be equipped with the information you need to secure the best treatment for yourself.

In addition, it’s essential to have a specialist give a second opinion on your peritoneal mesothelioma prognosis. There is always the potential for some level of inaccuracy in the initial prognosis. Although this is no one’s fault ( there is estimation involved in determining life expectancy and other indicators) you can be much more confident in your prognosis with specialist input. A peritoneal mesothelioma specialist can also give you the most relevant advice on suitable treatments. He or she will know that treatment is far from one-size-fits-all and be able to offer you the best chance of surviving longer and living healthier.

Take your peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis into your own hands. You want to survive this disease, and we want you to as well! Start by giving us a call at (800) 584-4151. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about your health or legal options. We can also connect you with some of the best peritoneal mesothelioma specialists available or help you find the resources you need.