Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma is a less common form of malignant mesothelioma than pleural mesothelioma.  However, it is more common than pericardial mesothelioma.  Peritoneal mesothelioma cases comprise approximately 10 -20% of mesotheliomas.   It is the only mesothelioma that proportionally affects women more than men.  Of the women victims of mesothelioma, 24% are afflicted with peritoneal mesothelioma.  On the other hand, 8% of men who suffer from malignant mesothelioma are diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma.

Often Causes Gastrointestinal Symptoms

The peritoneum is an extensive, transparent membrane lining the walls of the abdominal cavity.  The peritoneal cavity encompasses the area surrounding the liver, stomach, spleen, colon, small intestine, bladder and bowel.  Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the stomach and usually spreads to the liver or bowel. Peritoneal mesotheliomas nearly always cause gastrointestinal symptoms.  Patients experience nausea, vomiting, appetite and weight loss, bowel obstruction, fever and pain.  As peritoneal mesothelioma progresses, the abdomen fills with fluid.  This causes a painful condition called ascites, where the belly becomes swollen and distended.

Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may include:

  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Nausea
  • Bowel Obstruction
  • Fevers
  • Appetite Loss
  • Weight loss

Often Difficult to Diagnose

As with the two other forms of mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma is difficult to diagnose.  Because of the gastrointestinal location of the symptoms, this disease is sometimes first misdiagnosed as less serious conditions, such as an abdominal hernia.  Consequently, many peritoneal mesothelioma cases are not diagnosed at the early stages of the tumor’s progression.  By the time a diagnosis is made, the tumor is often difficult to treat because it is so advanced.  Therefore, if you or a family member have an occupational history of asbestos exposure, it is critical to schedule regular physical examinations in order to monitor the efficient functioning of your lungs and abdomen.  It is also paramount that you immediately visit a doctor when you experience any of the symptoms of mesothelioma.  When you do seek treatment, it is critical that your doctor is informed that you or a family member have previously been exposed to asbestos.  Your doctor needs this information to evaluate your risk for mesothelioma.