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Cancer Health Center

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Peritoneal Cancer

Diagnosing Peritoneal Cancer

In addition to asking about symptoms, your doctor will review your medical history and conduct a physical exam, which involves examining for abnormalities in these areas:

Tests you may have include:

Ultrasound. High-frequency sound waves produce a picture called a sonogram.

CA-125 blood test. This test measures levels of a chemical in the blood called CA-125. If levels are high, peritoneal or ovarian cancer may be present. But CA-125 can be high for other reasons. So, this test cannot confirm a diagnosis of these cancers.

CT scan . A computer linked to an X-ray machine produces detailed pictures of the inside the body.

Lower GI series or barium enema. With this test, you first receive an enema containing a white, chalky solution called barium. This outlines the colon and rectum on an X-ray. It makes it possible to spot some tumors and other problems.

Upper GI series. With this test, barium is swallowed and the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) are outlined on an X-ray.

Biopsy . A surgeon removes tissue by opening the abdomen during a laparotomy or by inserting tools through small holes in the abdomen (laparoscopy). If the doctor suspects cancer, he or she may remove one or more organs. A pathologist studies the tissue sample under a microscope to confirm a diagnosis of cancer.

Paracentesis. In cases where surgery is not possible or ascites could be due to other causes, the doctor may instead remove fluid for examination under a microscope. This is called paracentesis.

Ovarian and peritoneal cancers look the same under a microscope. So, the pattern and location of any tumors helps indicate which type of cancer is present.

Peritoneal Cancer Treatments

You may have more than one type of treatment for peritoneal cancer. The type of treatment you have depends upon:

  • The stage and grade of the cancer
  • The size and location of the cancer
  • Your age and overall health

Treatments for peritoneal cancer include:

Surgery. Surgery not only helps with diagnosis. It may also remove any tumors. To stage and treat this cancer, a surgeon removes all visible disease. The surgeon may also remove the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus as well. Depending upon what is found, the surgeon may also remove other tissue and organs. It is very important to have this surgery performed by a gynecologic oncologist. These specialists are familiar with gynecologic cancers and have greater success rates.

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