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Peritoneal Disease

Peritoneal Disease (Peritoneal Cancer)

Peritoneal disease refers to cancer that begins in an organ within the abdomen – for example, the colon or the stomach – and spreads (metastasizes) to the peritoneum. The peritoneum is the sheet of smooth tissue that lines the abdominal wall and covers most of the organs in the abdomen. Other common names for peritoneal cancer include peritoneal cancer, peritoneal malignancy and peritoneal carcinomatosis.

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Types of Peritoneal Disease

Cancers that can spread to that peritoneum include:

Symptoms of Peritoneal Disease

People in the early stages of peritoneal disease often have few or any symptoms. When the disease is more advanced, symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Signs of abdominal obstruction, including:
    • Abdominal swelling
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Bloating
    • Constipation
  • Urinary frequency
  • Sense of fullness when eating
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss

Diagnosis of Peritoneal Cancer

If your doctor suspects you have peritoneal cancer, you will be referred to a cancer specialist. During your first visit with a specialist, the doctor will typically perform a physical examination, review your symptoms, and discuss your medical history and your family’s medical history to assess your risk factors.

The physicians at UH Seidman Cancer Center have access to the most state-of-the-art technologies for diagnosing peritoneal and other types of cancer. To form an accurate diagnosis of peritoneal cancer, your doctor will order additional testing, which may include:

  • Diagnostic Imaging: Imaging tests provide pictures of organs and tissues inside the body that will help your doctor view and measure the extent of cancer if it is present. Imaging test used to diagnose peritoneal cancer may include:
    • CT Scan (Computed Tomography Scan)
    • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
    • PET Scan (Positron-Emission Tomography Scan)
    • Colonoscopy
    • Endoscopy
    • Laparoscopy
  • Biopsy: The doctor removes a small tissue sample to be examined in a laboratory. A biopsy can confirm a cancer diagnosis, help determine the type of cancer present, and assist in the development of a personalized treatment plan for the patient’s specific cancer.

Treatment of Peritoneal Cancer

Although treatment options for peritoneal cancer depend on the type of tumor involved, the treatment often recommended is cytoreductive surgery (CRS) combined with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC).

Other treatments for peritoneal cancer include:

Cytoreductive Surgery (CRS) With Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC)

In cytoreductive surgery (CRS) combined with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), a surgical team removes any visible cancer from the abdominal cavity. After the visible cancer is removed, the abdominal cavity is bathed with a heated chemotherapy solution – warmed to 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius) — to destroy any microscopic cancer cells that remain.

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