Kate Williams health: BBC Radio 5 Live presenter had a rare form of cancer – what was it?
Kate Williams presented BBC Radio 5 Live. Beloved by her listeners, it came as a shock when the award-winning broadcaster was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. What was it?
Married and a mum-of-two, Kate opened up about her condition on the You, Me and The Big C podcast.
Diagnosed with cystic peritoneal mesothelioma, she said: “If you look at mesothelioma it’s not a nice one to look at.
“It’s very aggressive, malignant, quite often caused by asbestos.”
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Expanding on the rarity of the cancer, she said: “If you look at the medical literature, they often quote 153 cases in the world.
“And in the UK I know of three other people, mainly through a Facebook group that I joined.”
What is mesothelioma?
The Mesothelioma Center describes mesothelioma as a malignant tumour that forms in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart.
The cancer is mostly caused by inhaling microscopic airborne asbestos fibers.
Then the embedded fibers damage mesothelial cells and cause inflammation.
Over time, tumours form on the damaged mesothelium – leading to mesothelioma.
What are mesothelial cells?
Mesothelial cells lines the body’s internal organs.
Its primary function is to provide a slippery, non-adhesive and protective surface.
The symptoms of mesothelioma
- Dry coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Respiratory complications
- Pain in the chest or abdomen
- Fever or night sweats
- Pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs)
- Weakness in the muscles
The stages of mesothelioma range from 1 to 4, depending on the tumour size and location.
There are also different types of mesothelioma cancers: pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, pericardial mesothelioma and testicular mesothelioma.
Newsreader Kate suffered from peritoneal mesothelioma – a tumour that forms on the lining of the abdomen.
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Specific symptoms for peritoneal mesothelioma include abdominal distension, abdominal pain, selling or tenderness around the abdomen, and constipation or diarrhoea.
This form of cancer is only confirmed through a biopsy.
Surgery with heated chemotherapy is the most effective treatment for this type of cancer.
Speaking about her own experience, Kate added: “It’s called MOAS, mother of all surgeries.
“It’s official name is cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC – which is hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy.
“So they took out the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, greater omentum, lesser omentum, pelvic peritoneum, another bit of my peritoneum.
“I was really lucky I didn’t have a stoma. And then they pump you full of heated chemotherapy which has been heated up to 42 Celsius, so that circulates around inside you for about an hour.
“I keep saying I’m lucky or it wasn’t too bad, my surgery was only about six hours, which you know, people say, ‘Oh, six hours’, but some patients who have this, it’s 12 to 14 hours.”
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