Causes of carcinomatosis

Updated March 23, 2017

Carcinomatosis, sometimes referred to as "carcinosis," is a general term applied to cancers that have spread throughout the body. This condition often proves difficult to treat and to cure.


There are many different types of cancer, but the types that lead to carcinomatosis are ones that originate in the lining cells of organs. A wide variety of factors can cause the development of tumours, including your family's medical history and your exposure to carcinogens, such as the ones encountered by smoking. These organ linings are composed of epithelial cells, and the subsequent cancer termed an epithelial cancer, or more commonly a carcinoma.


While most cancers are able to spread, some are more adept at doing so than others. This occurs when the primary cancer--the spot from which the cancer originated--disperses "seedlings" to infect other organs and create secondary tumours. When a large number of secondary tumours have developed, carcinomatosis has occurred.


Curing carcinomatosis is rare and usually requires a rigorous approach employing multiple methods of treatment. A general rule to follow is that the more tumours in the body, the greater the difficulty of removing all of them.


Doctors can perform a number of different methods, including surgery and various therapies, to prolong the patient's life and combat the cancer. Common approaches are chemotherapy, hormonal therapy and radiation therapy. Newer, less common methods, such as vaccinations and gene therapy, may also be available.


Regular checkups and examinations for the most common types of cancer can greatly reduce the risk of developing this advanced stage. Being aware of your medical history and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle will also guard you against potential pitfalls that could lead to the development and growth of cancer.

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About the Author

Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.