Peritoneal mesothelioma is difficult to treat because it spreads rapidly throughout the abdomen. In most cases, the disease is advanced at the time of diagnosis. Treatment is aimed at keeping the cancer under control as long as possible, relieving symptoms and improving quality of life.
The following treatment options are available for peritoneal mesothelioma. Your health care team will suggest treatments based on your needs and discuss a treatment plan with you.
Chemotherapy is the primary treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma. It is a regional treatment, meaning that the chemotherapeutic agents are administered directly into the peritoneal cavity. This is called intraperitoneal chemotherapy. The drugs may be heated up before they have to be given, and this is named hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy.
For some with peritoneal mesothelioma who undergo surgery, chemotherapeutic agents are placed in the abdominal cavity at the end of the procedure. For people who cannot have surgery, chemotherapeutic agents are administered into the peritoneal cavity that goes through a narrow tube called a catheter and it is inserted into the abdomen.
The most common chemotherapeutic agents used as intraperitoneal chemotherapy are:
- mitomycin (Mutamycin)
- doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
Cisplatin is sometimes combined with mitomycin or doxorubicin.
Surgery is not usually available for people with peritoneal mesothelioma because the cancer has usually spread too far to be removed completely. Surgery is often used to relieve the symptoms caused by this cancer.
The following surgical procedures are used to treat peritoneal mesothelioma:
- Tumor reduction (involves removing as much of the mesothelioma as possible before administering intraperitoneal chemotherapy)
- Paracentesis (to remove fluid accumulation in the abdomen)
You may receive external radiation therapy to relieve the pain and to be able to take control of symptoms advanced peritoneal mesothelioma comes along with. It isn’t administrated as the main treatment because many organs in the abdomen are sensitive to the effects of radiation therapy.
If you can’t or don’t want to have cancer treatment
You may want to consider a type of care that makes you feel better without treating the cancer itself. This may be because cancer treatments no longer work, are no longer likely to improve your condition, or their side effects are difficult to tolerate. There may be other reasons why you can’t or won’t have cancer treatment.
Discuss these with members of your health care team. They can help you choose care and treatment for advanced cancer.