A Peritoneal Cancer Diagnosis Isn’t Slowing Down This Doctor

According to a story from Yahoo News UK, Dr. Paula Hunt had a CT scan earlier this year with alarming results. The scan appeared to show a large tumor in her bowel. After a colonoscopy, Dr. Hunt’s physicians confirmed that she actually had peritoneal cancer. However, that didn’t stop her from running the Southampton Race for Life 5k in July.

About Peritoneal Cancer

Peritoneal cancer, or primary peritoneal carcinoma, is a rare form of cancer that develops in the cells of the peritoneum, a lining of thin tissue in the abdominal cavity. As these cells are a form of epithelial cell, peritoneal cancer tends to appear and behave in a fashion that is comparable to epithelial ovarian cancer, as the same type of cells are affected. While the direct cause of peritoneal cancer isn’t known in most cases, women are at a greater risk, and women with BRCA genetic mutations are at an elevated risk in particular. Symptoms often do not occur until the disease has reached an advanced stage. Symptoms can include feeling full after eating a small amount, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal discomfort/bloating, frequent urination, constipation, rectal bleeding, abnormal vaginal bleeding, appetite loss, sudden weight changes, and shortness of breath. Treatments include surgery and chemotherapy, including hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy following surgery. To learn more about peritoneal cancer, click here.

Dr. Hunt received her first chemotherapy treatment a few weeks ago.

I have three teenage boys, so when it looked like a really bad diagnosis, it’s like a juggernaut hits you.” – Dr. Paula Hunt

The diagnosis is driving her to “grab life by the balls” and lean into living life on a day to day basis. Dr. Hunt works at Chartwell Green Surgery and says that her fellow staff have been very supportive of her since she broke the news. She emphasizes that it can be critical for newly diagnosed patients to have supportive people around them that they can talk to about their disease. 

“I am so fortunate I have a really good network of support but there must be lots of people who don’t, and their situation makes it all harder.”

 

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