Peritoneal cancer is a rare type of cancer that develops in a thin layer of tissues of the abdomen and also covers bladder, uterus and rectum. Primary Peritoneal cancer (PPC) begins in the peritoneum and has the same nature as ovarian cancer, but can’t be considered similar to stomach cancer or intestinal cancer even though they are metastasize to the peritoneum. The cancer can still occur when your ovaries are removed and become fatal if not treated on time.
Cause and symptoms of Peritoneal cancer
Women have relatively high chances of developing the condition than of men. Other possible risk factors include older age, family history of similar condition, genetic mutation, especially with BRCA1, BRCA2 genes.
Similar to ovarian cancer, peritoneal cancer can be hard to detect at an early stage due to vague symptoms. The disease can further progress at the time of detection, hence become difficult to be treated. Symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain and discomfort
- Swelling on the abdomen
- Cramps and bloating
- Nausea and diarrhea
- Frequent urination
- Weight gain or loss
- Loss of appetite
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding and discharge
- Shortness of breath
- Rectal bleeding
- Pelvic examination
- Blood tests
- CT scans
- PET scan
- A biopsy
- Surgery: Surgery can be performed as the first treatment method where removal of ovaries, womb, Fallopian tubes and fat tissue layer called omentum is done. The aim of the surgery is to remove as much cancerous cells as possible, which allows other treatment methods make a full recovery.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses cytotoxic drugs as treatment to destroy the cancer cells. The drugs are given to the patient through mouth or injection into a vein, which enters the bloodstream and reaches cancer throughout the body. It can be used before surgery to shrink the tumor, after the surgery or without the surgery if you are not fit for it.
- HIPEC that is heated intraperitoneal chemoperfusion which delivers a high concentrated dose of chemotherapy directly to cancer cells in the abdomen.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy is used to shrink the cancer and reduce its growth with the help of high intensity radiation waves that are aimed at the affected area. Radiotherapy can be employed with chemotherapy to achieve better results.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Digestion issues
- Irritation in pelvic area
- Pain during sex
- Hair loss
- Unexpected weight gain or loss
- Fatigue and weakness
- Stomach ache
- Trouble urinating
Diagnosing Peritoneal cancer
Other than examining the symptoms, doctors perform several medical examinations to diagnose peritoneal cancer. These tests are:
Treatment of Peritoneal cancer
The treatment of peritoneal cancer usually depends on the size of the tumor, how much the cancer has metastasized and patients’ general health. Below are some of the possible treatment methods for peritoneal cancer:
Like with any other cancer treatment, side effects may be involved with peritoneal cancer treatment that depends on the kind of treatment you are given. These side effects could be:
Post Operative care
After the treatment, you will be required to stay in the hospital for a few days where your vital conditions and overall health will be monitored. Once you are discharged, proper guidance on your daily activities, diet and coping with treatment side effects will be given to you by the health care team.
Prognosis is best if all the cancer is removed, however, it is extremely necessary to take extra during and after the treatment.
Your doctor will require to closely watch your recovery, hence follow up checkups must be attended where full body scan will be performed to see if recurrence is happening. If cancer does comes back, then you will have to undergo another round of chemotherapy or surgery.