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Peritoneal Cancer

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Overview

One of the many cancers that affect people is peritoneal cancer. This handbook is for you if you or someone you love has been diagnosed with peritoneal cancer. In it, you will find everything you need to know about the disease–from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.

Our goal is to provide patients and their families with accurate, up-to-date information to make informed decisions about their care. We hope this guide helps ease your journey through this challenging time.

What is Peritoneal Cancer?

Peritoneal cancer is a type of cancer that affects the lining of the abdomen, known as the peritoneum. This tissue comprises epithelial cells that play an essential role in the digestive process.

Peritoneal cancer is a rare but aggressive form of cancer. It can develop from other types of cancer that have spread to the abdomen, such as ovarian cancer, or it can occur independently. Primary peritoneal cancer is rare, accounting for only about 1 percent of all gynecologic cancers.

Peritoneal cancer begins in the peritoneum and is known as primary peritoneal cancer. In contrast with intestinal or stomach cancers, it is not the same as metastatic (spreading) peritoneal carcinoma.

Symptoms of Peritoneal Cancer

Since the peritoneum covers a large area of the abdomen, peritoneal cancer can cause various symptoms. The most common symptom is abdominal pain or discomfort. Other symptoms may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Bloating
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor. Many of these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so only a medical professional can give you a definitive diagnosis of this cancer.

Causes and Risk Factors of Peritoneal Cancer

The exact cause of peritoneal cancer is unknown, but several risk factors may increase your chance of developing the disease. These include:

  • Ovarian cancer–Women with ovarian cancer have an increased risk of developing peritoneal cancer. It is because ovarian cancer often spreads to the peritoneum.
  • A family history of ovarian or breast cancer–Women with a family history of ovarian or breast cancer are more likely to develop peritoneal cancer.
  • Exposure to certain chemicals–Women exposed to certain chemicals, such as asbestos are at an increased risk of developing peritoneal cancer.

Diagnosis of Peritoneal Cancer

If you experience any symptoms associated with peritoneal cancer, it is essential to see your doctor. They will perform a physical examination and may order one or more of the following tests:

  • Pelvic exam–During a pelvic exam, your doctor will check for any abnormal growths in the pelvis.
  • Transvaginal ultrasound–This test uses sound waves to create an image of the pelvis. It can help to identify any abnormalities in the ovaries or peritoneum.
  • CA-125 blood test–This test measures the level of a protein called CA-125 in the blood. Elevated levels of this protein may indicate ovarian or peritoneal cancer.
  • CT scan–This imaging test uses X-rays to create cross-sectional body images. It can help to identify any tumors in the abdomen.
  • MRI–This imaging test uses magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed body images. It can be used to look for any abnormalities in the peritoneum.
  • Biopsy – During a biopsy, tissue samples are removed from the peritoneum and examined for cancer cells. It is the only way to diagnose peritoneal cancer definitively.

Treatment of Peritoneal Cancer

The treatment of peritoneal cancer will depend on several factors, including the stage of the disease, your overall health, and your personal preferences. Treatment options include:

Surgery

Surgery is the most common treatment for peritoneal cancer. The type of surgery will depend on the stage of the disease. For early-stage disease, a procedure called cytoreductive surgery may be recommended. It involves removing as much of the cancerous tissue as possible.

For more advanced diseases, debulking surgery may be performed. This involves removing as much of the cancerous tissue as possible and includes removing the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It is often used in combination with surgery for more advanced diseases.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. It is often used in combination with surgery for more advanced diseases.

With treatment, the prognosis for peritoneal cancer is improving. However, the disease is still relatively rare, so we need more research to improve outcomes further. If you have any questions about peritoneal cancer, book an appointment with our experts.

What are the side effects of peritoneal cancer treatment?

The side effects of peritoneal cancer treatment will depend on the type of treatment. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy can all cause side effects like:

  • Surgery–Side effects of surgery can include pain, scarring, and infection.
  • Chemotherapy–Chemotherapy’s side effects can include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and increased risk of infection.
  • Radiation therapy–Side effects of radiation therapy can include fatigue, skin irritation, and diarrhea.

It is important to talk to your doctor about the potential side effects of peritoneal cancer treatment before starting any treatment. It will help you to be prepared for what to expect during and after treatment.

Lifestyle modifications for peritoneal cancer

Besides treatment, several lifestyle modifications can help to improve the prognosis for peritoneal cancer. These include:

  • Eating a healthy diet–A healthy diet can help to boost your immune system and give you the energy you need to fight cancer. Include plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet.
  • Getting regular exercise–Exercise can help to reduce fatigue, improve your mood, and boost your immune system. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week.
  • Quitting smoking–Smoking can increase your risk of developing cancer and decrease your chances of survival. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.
  • Managing stress–Stress can weaken your immune system and make it harder for your body to fight cancer. Try to find healthy ways to manage stress, such as yoga, meditation, or spending time with friends and family.

If you have peritoneal cancer, these lifestyle modifications can help you stay healthy and improve your prognosis.

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