Peritoneal carcinomatosis

What is peritoneal carcinomatosis?

Peritoneal carcinomatosis (PC), also known as peritoneal cancer, is the spread of cancer that originates in the peritoneum, the thin membrane that covers the abdominal cavity, which includes the rectum, uterus and bladder. Peritoneal carcinomatosis generally occurs as a consequence of a tumour of the appendix, colon-rectum, or the ovaries, but it can also originate from other types of cancer (e.g. mesothelioma).

Symptoms of peritoneal carcinomatosis

The symptoms of peritoneal carcinomatosis are varied. The most common are:

  • abdominal pain and discomfort
  • weight loss
  • nausea and/or diarrhoea
  • loss of appetite
  • abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • rectal bleeding

How is peritoneal carcinomatosis treated?

Treatment of this cancer depends on the stage and size of your diagnosis, as well as your overall health. Usually, treatment involves radical removal, by debulking surgery, of all visible tumours and abnormal cells. In some cases, a resection of the abdominal and intestinal organs (spleen, ovaries, uterus, and liver) will also be necessary.

After completing the procedure, intraperitoneal chemotherapy will be performed directly in the operating room in order to remove debris and clean the abdominal cavity. This type of chemotherapy is performed in hyperthermia (increasing the patient's body temperature) to improve the effectiveness of the medications. After the intervention, the patient will remain in intensive care for 24 hours. The hospitalisation period can vary between 10 and 30 days.

In some cases where it is diagnosed at advanced stages, treatment will only be palliative care to relieve symptoms such as pain and weight loss.

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