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Spreading awareness of peritoneal cancer

Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 8:46 AM EST
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Peritoneal cancer is cancer that develops in the thin layer of tissue that covers the abdomen on surfaces of organs, like the appendix, stomach, or intestines. Meet one man who says he owes his survival not only to his surgeon, but in a rare coincidence, a colleague who knew exactly what to look for.

Seventy-one-year-old Bob Hass runs a thriving construction company. Three years ago, this father of six, and grandfather of 14, started feeling “off”.

“I was having trouble keeping food down and, you know, looking back at it, my stomach was distended,” explained Hass.

Hass ignored those symptoms until his office manager Teresa insisted, he see her specialists. Teresa had just finished treatment for peritoneal cancer and recognized some of the subtle symptoms, like abdominal discomfort, feeling full even after a snack, loss of appetite and nausea. Hass said most of his family was in the room when the doctor delivered a devastating diagnosis. Hass had peritoneal cancer.

“He says, your husband, your dad, in my estimation has less than two weeks to live if we don’t do this surgery,” shared Hass.

Vadim Gushchin, MD, a surgical oncologist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, said, “You need to be very meticulous with your technique, not to injure the structures where the tumor grows. It grows right on the surface.”

Dr. Gushchin performed two surgeries, six months apart to remove the tumors and treated Robert with HIPEC, a form of hot chemotherapy, delivered into his abdominal cavity. Two years later, Hass is cancer free.

Bob fields a team with his nickname “Buff Bob” to raise money for research and awareness of peritoneal cancer.

“I have to thank Teresa for putting me in the position for Dr. Gushchin to save my life,” smiled Hass.

This year, and for all the holidays to come.

Doctors say peritoneal cancer is often confused with stomach cancer or intestinal cancer but is not the same thing. The symptoms of peritoneal cancer and ovarian cancer are very similar because the ovaries are made up of the same type of cells that line the abdominal cavity.

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