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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

Peritoneal Cancer : Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prognosis

Peritoneal or the primary peritoneal cancer is a rare form of cancer that develops in only 6 out of a million people. Mostly diagnosed in females, it is often confused with epithelial ovarian cancer. It is because a majority of women who are suffering from ovarian cancer experience similar symptoms in the earlier stages. Moreover, it has been found out that those diagnosed with the advanced stages of ovarian cancer actually already have peritoneal cancer.

This type of cancer is especially dangerous because the person having it displays no symptoms whatsoever in the beginning. Due to it, early diagnosis and treatment becomes impossible. To prevent it from spreading throughout the body, it is essential to gain a better understanding of it.

What Is Peritoneal Cancer?

peritoneal cancer

A patient in a bed, Credit: Canva

The inner part of your abdomen or stomach is lined with a transparent tissue that covers the organs in that place. Due to this tissue, the organs are comfortably placed next to each other and they don’t stick together. This tissue is called Peritoneum. Primary peritoneal cancer begins when the cells that comprise it expand abnormally and turn cancerous. It can occur at any place inside the abdomen, after which it starts affecting the outer parts of those organs.

Peritoneal cancer is often related to ovarian cancer because the cells that comprise the film are similar to the ones that cover the surface of the ovaries of women. It is due to this fact that doctors recommend similar treatment for both of them.

Doctors are yet to find out its causes and it can only be conjectured that women who have breast or ovarian cancer have a high chance of developing it or passing it to their offspring through their genes.

Symptoms of Peritoneal Cancer

peritoneal cancer symptoms

A woman in pain, Credit: Canva

Common symptoms of this condition include:

  1. General indigestion, bloating, or cramps

  2. Loss of appetite

  3. An urge to pee often

  4. Weight gain or loss without any reason

  5. Vaginal bleeding

As you can see, the symptoms of this cancer are similar to those of many other conditions that are treatable. Hence, people who suffer from it do not feel the need to reach out to their doctor for help.

How Is Peritoneal Cancer Diagnosed?

peritoneal cancer diagnosis

A doctor with a patient, Credit: Canva

Currently, the detection of this kind of cancer in its initial stages is nearly impossible, yet there are a few tests that doctors recommend to find out whether you may be at risk of this cancer.

  1. A pelvic exam, which enables the doctor to determine the size of your vagina and ovaries and find out if they are abnormally large or not.

  2. Blood tests help doctors to find out chemicals that act as warning signals for the presence of peritoneal cancer.

  3. The doctor may also do an ultrasound through which they can see the inside of your abdomen and find out if you have the cancerous tissue or not.

  4. Sometimes, the diagnosis can also include a surgery whereby doctors can examine the tissue in your abdomen closely.

Treating Peritoneal Cancer

peritoneal cancer treatment

A researcher in the lab, Credit: Canva

The treatment of the cancer depends upon its severity. Following are the chief routes of treatment that are presently recommended for women having this cancer.

  1. Surgery, which consists of the removal of ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes that contain signs of this disease.

  2. Chemotherapy, which involves the injection of drugs to help you fight this cancer.

  3. Radiation, which aims to kill the cancerous cells by means of powerful X-rays and radiation.

Peritoneal Cancer – Prognosis

The lack of a well-defined treatment line as well as a known cause makes its prognosis very poor. Peritoneal cancer life expectancy is around 48 months after the cancer is diagnosed. Primary or secondary peritoneal cancer survival rate depends upon the presence of non-cancerous cells in the lymph nodes, an optimal surgery, and the usage of intraperitoneal chemotherapy.

At present, this cancer is not curable, but medical science is progressing rapidly. It is only a matter of a few years when advanced techniques will be developed that will be effective in curing it.

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