What can you tell me about mesothelioma colon cancer?
July 10, 2022 11:02 AM   Subscribe

My mom's been dx'd w/ stage 4 mesothelioma colon cancer. What is the genesis/outlook of this disease?

And also, is there a way to test for asbestos in the water source, ie, pipes, if that is a likely contamination source?
posted by erattacorrige to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I’m so sorry to hear this.
Stage 4 cancer always means that it the cancer has metastasized (spread) from its point of origin. I’m only familiar with mesothelioma as a lung disease, brought on from exposure to asbestos, usually on the job. What kind of work did he do? Some professions have known risks for this cancer, and your father may be eligible for compensation.
You may want to engage in end-of-life planning, if that hasn’t been done before.
This page on the American Cancer Society site, offers more information.
posted by dbmcd at 2:30 PM on July 10, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the link. My mom didn't work in a position that exposed her to asbestos, so I think maybe its worth checking if her home has some overlooked-by-inspectors asbestos, since I (barely) understand that home inspectors will try to dodge around dealing with/disclosing asbestos during home sales. This house is old, too, and I suspected asbestos insulated pipes specifically because it's in her colon, so I deduced that she probably ingested it. Her childhood home, which was built by her father in the early 50s,was discovered to have asbestos in the 90s, so perhaps that is source enough, but I do not know, as no other people that lived in that home had (known) complications of mesothelioma prior to death / life presently.
In terms of end-of-life things-- that will be dealt with, but not by me. It's metastasized to her liver already. Since mesothelioma of the colon is apparently rare, I'm seeking insight about that bit, and my Googling hasn't yielded much info. Thanks!
posted by erattacorrige at 2:55 PM on July 10, 2022

Best answer: dbmcd, mesothelioma is just a term for a tumor that arises from mesothelium, the thin layer of epithelial tissue which lines the abdomen and thorax and covers the organs. It's sort of like the "skin" of your insides. Mesothelioma most commonly occurs in the pleura, which is the mesothelium surrounding the lung, but it can grow anywhere there is mesothelium, including in the peritoneum.

To answer the question, peritoneal mesothelioma is very rare and aggressive, with only about 300 new cases diagnosed in the United States every year. Here's more information from MD Anderson, a cancer hospital in Texas.

Erratacorrige, I am really sorry to hear this.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 3:02 PM on July 10, 2022 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, that's extremely helpful information. I'll continue to seek information about asbestos and how to detect it -- I'm worried for others who may be exposed to it in her current home, for instance. Yes, she's been feeling poorly since just mother's day, and has apparently lost about 40 pds in the span of a month or so. It's not looking optimistic for her. Any further insights here still appreciated.
posted by erattacorrige at 3:23 PM on July 10, 2022

Tell whoever is in charge of her care to get her into palliative care asap. It will help manage her symptoms and she will be much more comfortable. Do it sooner rather than later.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 4:44 PM on July 10, 2022 [5 favorites]

The ONLY known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos. Your mom must have been exposed, even if she passively washed the clothing of someone who worked around asbestos. Could there possibly be asbestos in her home if she lives in an older home? Could she have worked in a building that had asbestos that was not remediated? A couple of years age in Philadelphia an elementary school teacher got asbestosis from exposure to old asbestos-covered pipes in her classroom that had not been remediated - this is an expensive curse experienced by school districts with older buildings and limited remediation budgets. Could apply to many older buildings.

Although it seems strange to recommend a "shark" asbestos lawyer, that's exactly what I am suggesting you seek. These attorneys specialize in asbestosis and mesothelioma cases and will know exactly how to help your mom. Even if she can't extend her life, her medical costs will be covered in full, and there will be a financial legacy for her descendants. And the entity responsible for her illness will be held accountable.
posted by citygirl at 8:34 PM on July 10, 2022

The ONLY known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos. Your mom must have been exposed

This is not true. Well differentiated papillary mesothelioma is not associated with asbestos at all, and as easy, lucky, free's link states, asbestos is associated with only 30-40% of all peritoneal mesothelioma cases.

OP, you need to find out exactly what kind of peritoneal mesothelioma your mom has and then you can see whether it even is associated with asbestos exposure.
posted by HotToddy at 8:58 PM on July 10, 2022 [6 favorites]

Best answer: To add to HotToddy, BAP1 Syndrome is a recently-recognized syndrome involving a gene mutation that causes predisposition to several types of cancer, including mesothelioma. Asbestos is not the sole cause of mesothelioma.

erattacorrige, I'm so sorry that you, your mother, and your family are going through this.
posted by aquamvidam at 11:58 PM on July 10, 2022 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: As mentioned, she grew up in a home with asbestos. I did a pedigree of her family last year because *I* was experiencing some colon related issues and discovered a history of GI cancers on her side. So, this information about a mutation on BAP1 is good to know, because maybe that's something that myself and my sisters should get tested for. Since her own dad built the house, and he's been long dead, I'm not sure if there's anyone to go after.
posted by erattacorrige at 1:19 AM on July 11, 2022

Also chiming in to say palliative care isn't "giving up" or "waiting to die". It's treating the whole person, not just the cancer, and their assistance can be immensely helpful for both the sick person and their family. They may be able to help you with the genetic testing questions.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 4:33 AM on July 11, 2022 [3 favorites]

I'm sorry that you are in this situation. Cancer is horrible when it's this advanced. I'm watching for my own colon to betray me as my father and his father both had early exits in their late sixties to bowel cancer. Five years ago, my dad went from aggressive heartburn to palpable masses on his liver within three months as his bowel cancer metastasized. We thought we'd have more time with him and did not because his decline was fast. May your mother have a long and comfortable phase living with this thing, and may your family find the time to get together with her to recall your good memories.
posted by k3ninho at 5:21 AM on July 11, 2022

Also chiming in to say that palliative care is about optimising quality of life. It usually leads to hospice but makes the time between here and there so much better. You can couple palliative care with treatments, if your mom has treatment options.

I am sorry your family is facing this news. I hope you have support around you.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:59 AM on July 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

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