Not so long ago, treating patients with peritoneal cancer was thought to be a futile endeavor. At that time, these patients typically lived for only a few weeks to a few months after diagnosis depending on the severity of the disease, condition of the patient and the origin of the peritoneal cancer.
Over the last two decades, this outlook has changed and many hospitals around the world now offer treatment for select patients with peritoneal cancer. The treatment is challenging and requires medical professionals with specific expertise in peritoneal cancer.
The optimal treatment for an individual patient depends on many factors, including age, general condition, origin and severity of the peritoneal cancer. Ideally, patients with peritoneal cancer are assessed by a multidisciplinary team consisting of a medical oncologist, a surgical oncologist, a dedicated radiologist and a pathologist with knowledge about peritoneal cancer.
Even today, treatment may not be possible at all for some patients. For instance, treatment may not be feasible for very advanced cases or cases in which the condition of a patient does not allow for treatment.
Fortunately, some form of treatment is possible in many patients. Generally speaking, there are two strategies for treating patients:
Treatment with palliative intent
This treatment aims to prolong survival and to resolve symptoms of the peritoneal cancer as much as possible, but it is not intended to cure the patient. Such treatment may include different aspects ranging from pain-relief and removal of ascites to treatment with systemic chemotherapy and surgery to resolve bowel obstruction.Learn more on treatment with palliative intent
This treatment strives to cure the patient. This approach is typically a multidisciplinary effort combining systemic chemotherapy, extensive surgery to remove all tumor cells from the peritoneum and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) to destroy microscopic tumor cells.
Again, patients with peritoneal cancer should seek advice from a multi-disciplinary team with specific knowledge about this disease whenever possible to determine their optimal treatment.