Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that affects the mesothelium, that thin layer of membrane that protects most of our body’s internal organs. Since its first appearance, mesothelioma has been associated with exposure to the fibrous mineral used in construction, called asbestos.
As a matter of fact, most cases of mesothelomia are almost always connected with previous exposure to the mineral.
In asbestos mesothelioma, the cancerous cells mostly affect the mesothelial layer of the lungs and chest cavity (called pleura). However, there are certain cases where the cancer could also occur in the peritoneum, or the lining of the abdominal cavity, as well as the pericardium, the membranous sac that surrounds the heart.
Abdominal asbestos mesothelioma is mesothelioma of the peritoneum. People who develop abdominal asbestos mesothelioma may have worked in an area where asbestos is present. Exposure to asbestos could come in many forms.
A worker may inhale asbestos fibers during the course of regular duties. A person who is not a worker may be exposed to the mineral by other means, such as washing the clothes of an asbestos worker.
According to one survey, one out of seven people who came into contact with asbestos may develop any of the different types of asbestos-related cancer, including abdominal asbestos mesothelioma.
Signs and Symptoms
One of the main problems that doctors are having with abdominal asbestos mesothelioma is the fact that its symptoms are hard to identify. In fact, the first signs of abdominal asbestos mesothelioma may not be noticeable until 20 to 50 years after asbestos exposure. Moreover, the symptoms can vary, depending on several factors, such as the specific type of mesothelioma a patient has and his length of exposure to asbestos.
For abdominal asbestos mesothelioma, the symptoms include cachexia, a condition characterized by drastic loss of weight, fatigue, muscle atrophy and anorexia (loss of appetite, as opposed to anorexia nervosa).
There may also be abdominal swelling as a result of the buildup of fluids in the abdominal cavity. If the abdominal asbestos mesothelioma is in its advanced stages, pain due to the buildup may also occur.
Other symptoms of abdominal asbestos mesothelioma are anemia, fever, blood clotting abnormalities, and bowel obstruction. Additionally, if the cancer has spread to other organs, the person may suffer swelling of the neck or face or have trouble swallowing.
Abdominal asbestos mesothelioma is not incurable. However, most of the treatment methods available at present have only been moderately successful. Doctors often use a combination of radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and immunotherapy in order to achieve the best results.
Other types of treatment for abdominal asbestos mesothelioma are more for symptom relief than for an actual cure. A procedure known as heated intraoperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy is said to help prevent the development of the cancer by removing as much of the tumor from the patient.