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What Is Peritoneal Mesothelioma?

Peritoneal mesothelioma is one of the three main types of asbestos-related cancer. It affects the peritoneum, the protective membrane that lines the abdominal cavity.

What Causes Peritoneal Mesothelioma?

Like all forms of mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. The type of mesothelioma a person develops often depends on how they came in contact with the mineral. Pleural (lung) mesothelioma, for example, is caused by tiny asbestos fibers that are inhaled and become trapped in the lungs, causing cancerous cells and tumors to form.

Because peritoneal mesothelioma is much less common than pleural mesothelioma, doctors do not have much information as to how exactly this type of cancer forms. It is believed, though, that peritoneal mesothelioma develops from either the ingestion or inhalation of asbestos particles.

Ingestion: It is believed that peritoneal mesothelioma may develop when asbestos particles are ingested, either through food or drink. Some believe that asbestos particles can travel through the digestive system and remain in the peritoneum.

Inhalation: There are also theories that peritoneal mesothelioma can develop when a person inhales asbestos particles. These particles can then enter the lymphatic system (which is responsible for producing cells that fight disease) and travel to the peritoneum.

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What Are the Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma?

Peritoneal mesothelioma has a long latency period. This means that many who develop this type of cancer do not exhibit any symptoms of the disease until much later in life. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Night sweats and fever
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Feeling full
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia

If a doctor suspects a patient is suffering from peritoneal mesothelioma, he or she may perform various screening tests to see whether any tumors are present on the peritoneum. Screenings, including X-rays or CT scans, are often used to detect peritoneal mesothelioma.

If a doctor finds tumors in the peritoneum, he or she may perform a biopsy, during which a sample of tissue or fluid is tested for cancer cells. A fine-needle aspiration biopsy, which is a minimally-invasive procedure that uses a thin needle to collect the tissue/fluid sample, is often used on suspected peritoneal mesothelioma victims due to the location of their tumors.

Mesothelioma victims may have legal recourse. At Mesothelioma.org, we can help cancer victims and their families. If you are interested in filing a lawsuit against an asbestos manufacturer, fill out our case review form today to have your claim reviewed, free of charge.

Omental Mesothelioma

Peritoneal cancer may spread to the omentum, a tissue beneath the peritoneum that covers the intestines. This type of mesothelioma is extremely rare: medical literature lists only five reported cases of this disease. Furthermore, it is very difficult to diagnose and treat, as victims typically only experience lower back pain as a symptom.

Treatments for Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma patients often undergo one or more traditional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.

A combination of surgery and heated chemotherapy, known as hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), has proven to be promising for peritoneal mesothelioma patients. In HIPEC, cancerous tumors are removed during surgery. Then, the patient will undergo heated chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells. In some cases, HIPEC has been proven to extend the life expectancy of a peritoneal mesothelioma patient by several years.

Typical Prognosis for Peritoneal Mesothelioma Patients

The prognosis for many peritoneal mesothelioma patients is less than one year; however, a patient's prognosis largely depends on the stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis. Furthermore, the prognosis may also be affected by the location of cancerous tumors, the cell types within the tumors, and the patient's age and overall health.