Malignant mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. This cancer is found in the mesothelial lining that surrounds many vital organs in the body, and there are different types of mesothelioma based on where the cancer is primarily located. The most common form of this cancer is pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lining surrounding the lungs, and the majority of patients will have this form of cancer. Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common type of mesothelioma and affects the lining of the abdomen, known as the peritoneum.
If you have developed peritoneal mesothelioma, it may have been due to exposure to asbestos at your job or through secondary exposure as a family member of one of these workers. You will most likely need expensive medical treatments to fight the cancer and prolong your life and may be too ill to work. The experienced mesothelioma attorneys at Neblett, Arsenault & Beard are here to help you fight for the compensation that you deserve from your employer or another negligent party.
How Is Peritoneal Mesothelioma Caused?
Asbestos is a fibrous mineral that was widely used in manufacturing and consumer products in the 1960s and 1970s before its cancer-causing properties became known. Workers in many industries were exposed to harmful levels of asbestos. Construction workers, factory workers, firefighters, painters, drywall installers, insulation manufacturers and installers, and shipyard workers are just a few of the workers at risk of exposure to this toxic substance.
Employees are not the only ones in danger of developing peritoneal mesothelioma. Workers would bring asbestos home on their clothes and bodies, and family members could be exposed to this toxic substance when clothes were removed or washed. Peritoneal mesothelioma is one of the more common types of mesothelioma that family members of exposed workers are diagnosed with, and many patients are women between the ages of 50 to 59 years old.
Asbestos can cause peritoneal mesothelioma in two ways:
- Inhaling. Asbestos fibers can become airborne and are easily inhaled by workers and family members. They can become trapped in the lining surrounding the lungs and then travel to the lining of the abdomen where they cause the cells to mutate into cancer cells.
- Ingesting. Asbestos fibers can be ingested when a person inhales them, coughs them up, and then swallows the fibers. These fibers then travel through the digestive system to the peritoneum.
What Are the Stages of Peritoneal Mesothelioma?
Like with other types of mesothelioma, it can take anywhere from 20 to 50 years for peritoneal mesothelioma to develop. Initial symptoms can include abdominal pain or swelling, constipation, and diarrhea. Additional symptoms that a person can experience as the disease progresses include night sweats, fever, weight loss, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. Because this cancer is rare and the symptoms are similar to those of other diseases, peritoneal mesothelioma is often initially misdiagnosed.
Due to how rare this cancer is, the disease progression of peritoneal mesothelioma is less defined than pleural mesothelioma and other forms of cancer. The stages of this disease are:
- Stage I. This is the earliest stage of the cancer where the cancerous tissues are minimal and the cancer is confined to the abdomen lining.
- Stage II. In Stage II, the cancerous cells have multiplied, but they still have not spread beyond the abdominal lining to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
- Stage III. In this stage, the cancer growth is more aggressive and may have spread outside the abdomen lining or to the lymph nodes. In final stages, the cancer can metastasize and spread to other organs in the body.
Expensive Treatments That You Need If Diagnosed With Peritoneal Mesothelioma
While there is no cure for any type of mesothelioma, your life expectancy if diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma may be better than if diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma—up to four times longer. In addition, research is ongoing and new treatments are being developed that may help extend your life expectancy, reduce the pain, and improve the quality of your life.
Treatment for your cancer will be expensive and ongoing for the rest of your life. Because this disease is so rare, you may need to travel to another state where a peritoneal cancer specialist treats patients with the specific care that you need. You will most likely receive more than one type of treatment. This is referred to multimodal therapy and has been found to be much more effective in improving survival rates.
Medical treatments for peritoneal mesothelioma include:
- Surgery. Cytoreduction surgery is a debulking surgery that involves removing as much as the tumor as possible and, if necessary, the abdomen lining and some organs. This surgery is usually performed during Stage I and II of the disease. It is an especially promising treatment when used in combination with heated chemotherapy. Surgery can also be utilized to remove part of the tumor to relieve symptoms and pain and improve the quality of life.
- Chemotherapy. Heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is a heated and sterilized chemotherapy treatment that is administered at the time of surgery or after it through an abdominal catheter. It is used to kill any other cancer cells and may have fewer side effects than other types of chemotherapy. Patients may also need more long-term traditional chemotherapy following HIPEC.
- Radiation. Because of where the tumors are located in the body, radiation therapy is riskier and less effective for patients with peritoneal mesothelioma. As a result, a doctor may decide against incorporating this as part of a treatment plan.
- Newer treatments and clinical studies. Many of the clinical studies and newer treatments are designed for patients with pleural mesothelioma because the majority of mesothelioma patients have this form of the cancer. However, some recent clinical trials have focused on immunology for peritoneal mesothelioma. This type of treatment stimulates the patient’s immune system to fight the cancer. In addition, your cancer specialist and your personal research can inform you about other clinical trials and new treatments that may show promise in fighting your disease.
Get the Compensation That You Deserve for Your Expensive Medical Treatments
If you have developed peritoneal mesothelioma, you are in a fight for your life. You should be able to receive all possible medical treatments that can prolong your life and improve your quality of life—regardless of their cost. This disease was most likely caused by your employer, your family member’s employer, or another negligent party. You need to hold the responsible party accountable for compensating you for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The best method to proceed is to speak with an experienced Mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means we don't charge for our services until after your claim is settled. Our fee is based upon a percentage of your settlement, so there are no upfront costs required for you to get the legal help you need.
To learn about our experience in handling these cases throughout the country and your legal options for compensation, contact us online or call us directly at (318) 541-8188 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.