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Abdominal mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that primarily affects the peritoneum, the soft lining of the abdominal cavity. Almost all cases of abdominal mesothelioma are linked to long-term exposure to asbestos or the minerals that make up asbestos fibers. A person who is afflicted with this type of cancer may experience symptoms of abdominal pain, swelling, and nausea that tend to worsen as the disease progresses. When the condition is discovered early, doctors can try to eradicate tumors with chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or a combination of the three treatments.
The peritoneum is made up of two layers of tissue that secrete fluids to help lubricate and protect the abdominal cavity. When the mesothelial layer is afflicted with cancer, the tissue produces an overabundance of fluid that can lead to abdominal swelling, inflammation, indigestion, and nausea. A person may also experience weight loss, fever, and fatigue as a result of abdominal problems. Over time, a palpable tumor may develop in the peritoneum that can put pressure on internal organs, leading to additional symptoms.
Most people who develop abdominal mesothelioma do so after being exposed to asbestos at their homes, schools, or workplaces. Men are afflicted about five times as often as women, which is probably due to the fact that most jobs in the past where asbestos exposure was likely were held by males. The majority of reported cases can be linked to working in mines, manufacturing plants, and construction companies where asbestos minerals and fibers were encountered frequently. The cancer tends to linger for many years before causing symptoms, so most people who experience abdominal mesothelioma are between the ages of 50 and 70.
An individual who experiences any possible symptoms of abdominal mesothelioma or knows that he or she has been exposed to asbestos should visit his or her doctor immediately. A specialist can check for signs of mesothelioma by conducting a thorough physical examination and taking a computerized tomography (CT) scan of the abdomen. The doctor can analyze CT scan results to identify tumors and excess fluid in the abdominal cavity.
Depending on the severity and progression of the cancer, a doctor may decide to initiate chemotherapy or radiation treatments right away. If tumors are identified, surgery may be recommended to excise the affected area of tissue. Even with early detection and treatment, abdominal mesothelioma is very difficult to eradicate. Tumors tend to reappear after time, and the cancer is ultimately fatal in many cases.