Jelly belly - Just bad figure or a rare cancer?
We all have dealt with a jelly belly at some point in our lives. It might have given some of us scares when we tried to put that favourite pair of jeans on after a while or when we looked hideous in a once extremely smart-looking top. It might also have scarred the self-confidence of some of us when having a casual look in the mirror one day revealed that our figure was not what it once used to be.
Sad. But true.
While it is common knowledge that a jelly belly may be the consequence of our poor eating habits, lack of exercise or even a stressful routine that prompts the stress hormone cortisol to unpack excess fat in our stomachs, there is another reason for it that is quite unheard of for most people.
What’s even more interesting is that it is even a scarce spectacle for doctors who don’t normally deal with a lot of patients with this disease.
Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP) or ‘Jelly belly’
‘Pseudomyxoma Peritonei’ or PMP is an extremely rare form of cancer that can originate from the appendix, bowel, bladder or ovaries through a small growth called a polyph. When this growth is left undiagnosed, it bursts out from its place of origin and spreads tumors in the surrounding area. Once in a person’s belly, this tumor multiplies and produces a mucin-like fluid that fills the belly and puts pressure on the adjacent organs. It is owing to this jelly-like fluid filling up the belly that this cancer is also termed as the ‘Jelly Belly’.
Why PMP or jelly belly occurs is still unknown. However, you can keep an eye out for certain symptoms and consult your doctor in case you have been experiencing them in order to be on the safe side.
What to look for
Unlike PMP itself that is extraordinarily rare, it’s symptoms are pretty common. Look out for the following symptoms and consult your physician if they are persistent or have been getting worse as time passes.
- Pain in your belly
- Worsening bloating
- Pain during sex
- Tender spots anywhere on the abdomen
- Fatigue that interrupts normal routine
- An increase in waist size
- Unexplained weight gain
- Poor appetite
- Digestive issues
What to do next
PMP is not only rare, it is also very hard to diagnose since many symptoms of the disease are similar to other ailments. Nonetheless, it is in your best interest to consult a physician if these symptoms have been worsening and causing increased discomfort. Depending on your doctor’s analysis, they may conduct a CT scan to get images of what is happening inside your belly, order ultrasound scans, examine a specimen of liquid drained from your belly or conduct a biopsy.
PMP is often diagnosed by accident, usually when a patient is under examination for some other health issue. This is why it is extremely important to not just casually dismiss any of the above mentioned symptoms and to consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Once diagnosed, PMP or jelly belly is treated with multiple surgeries and chemotherapy. While surgery is a method of removing cancerous bulks from within one’s body, including organs that have been affected by the disease, chemotherapy is used to kill any cancerous cells that have not been removed through surgery.
Sometimes, the doctors also recommend to wait until the cancer starts causing trouble before commencing treatment.
PMP can be tough to deal with. However, with timely diagnosis and robust procedures for treatment, it can be cured.
Remember. Taking prompt action is in your best interest!