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3,000 Mesothelioma Cases diagnosed per year

Wake Forest Study Shows Treatment to Reduce Fluid Buildup in Patients with Peritoneal Mesothelioma


A new study from cancer researchers at North Carolina’s Wake Forest University reports that undergoing cytoreductive surgery (CRS) and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) can improve the lives of those suffering from peritoneal mesothelioma by controlling the buildup of fluid in the abdomen.

CRS/HIPEC Offers A More Permanent Solution To Fluid Build Up

The accumulation of fluid in the peritoneal cavity (the space between the lining of the abdomen and abdominal organs) can cause those with mesothelioma a great deal of discomfort. However, according to a recent article in the Annals of Surgical Oncology, undergoing CRS/HIPEC can offer a more permanent solution to fluid build up.

Left untreated, the building up of fluid can cause not only discomfort, but also bloating, disfiguration and shortness of breath as it interferes with diaphragm movement. Although peritoneal mesothelioma sufferers can have fluid drained, it generally accumulates again in time. So, how can treatment help?

Cancer researchers at Wake Forest University studied 299 patients, 15% of whom had peritoneal mesothelioma and the rest of whom had various types of primary cancers that had spread to the peritoneum.

All patients underwent cytoreductive surgery (CRS) to remove as much of the cancer as possible, followed by hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). The procedure involves bathing the abdominal cavity in heated chemotherapy drugs to destroy residual cancer cells. According to the study, 93% of participants had a complete resolution of their ascites after a three-month period. This included some cases in which the cancer itself could not be completely removed.

Authors of the study, published in the Annals of Surgical Oncology, wrote that, “Although complete cytoreduction (the removal of cancerous cells) remains the goal of this procedure, HIPEC can provide palliative value in selected patients with malignant ascites.” This can improve the quality of life for mesothelioma patients, even in cases where it may not necessarily be able to improve survival rates.

Exposure To Asbestos Primary Cause Of Peritoneal Mesothelioma Peritoneal

mesothelioma accounts for 10 to 20 percent of the nearly 3,000 cases of mesothelioma diagnosed in the United States every year. The primary cause of peritoneal mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. Symptoms may include:

  • abdominal pain
  • anemia
  • blood clotting abnormalities
  • bowel obstruction
  • swelling due to a buildup of fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
  • weight loss.

If you’ve been exposed to asbestos, it’s important to see your healthcare professional immediately to determine whether you may have developed mesothelioma. Many mesothelioma victims were exposed to asbestos fibers and dust particles decades ago and far too many aren’t diagnosed until the cancer is in its later stages.

While life expectancy rates for untreated peritoneal mesothelioma are grim, early detection and effective treatment, such as CRS/HIPEC are available to combat symptoms and may improve prognosis.

About the Author - 

Wade is as a journalist and has worked covering legal proceedings and legislative issues for Reuters News Service and a number of newspapers for more than three decades.