At times a cancer can spread outside of the gastrointestinal tract and seed onto the surface of the abdominal lining (called the peritoneum) leaving several implants of cancer throughout the belly. This type of cancer spread is called Carcinomatosis. This is a form of spread of an advanced cancer.
The most common originating organ sites that can cause this kind of spread are the appendix, the colon, the stomach, the ovaries and the pancreas. There is another entity that originates directly from this abdominal lining (the peritoneum itself) called mesothelioma. Carcinomatosis is treated very differently depending on the originating source.
In most cases, chemotherapy is required. In some rare cases, patients that have carcinomatosis due to mesothelioma, colon cancer or appendix cancer may be candidates for a special surgical procedure called Cytoreductive Surgery and HIPEC (Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy). This is an extensive surgery where all of the implants and possible other organs are removed to clear the disease and on the same day of surgery, very hot chemotherapy is circulated in the abdomen to kill all of the remaining cells. This is a very specilaized procedure only done in a few centers in Canada.
Not all types of Carcinomatosis are the same and therefore a detailed consultation with your physician/surgeon is very important once the diagnosis has been made.
Dr. Carolyn Nessim actively consults on Carcinomatosis through the Ottawa Hospital Regional Cancer Center.