Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma, also referred to as abdominal mesothelioma
, is a deadly cancer
found in the tissue
that lines the abdomen and surrounds the abdominal organs
It accounts for anywhere from 20 to 33 percent of mesothelioma cases, according to research published in the Medscape General Medicine
journal, making it the second-most common type
behind pleural mesothelioma
. Other cases are pericardial
and testicular mesothelioma
Unfortunately, there is no cure for peritoneal mesothelioma, but treatment options are available to reduce patients
’ pain and possibly extend their lives.
Cause of Peritoneal Mesothelioma
The only known cause of this cancer
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration reports that common household and industrial building products contain asbestos
- Pumps, Valves, Boilers and Turbines
- Roofing and siding
- Floor tiles
- Plaster, cement, putty and caulk
- Ceiling tiles spray-on coatings
- Gaskets and Packing
- Lab Equipment
People whose work exposed them to asbestos
are most at risk of developing peritoneal mesothelioma.
Veterans, construction workers, industrial workers, mechanics and shipbuilders in New York and throughout the United States make up the majority of cases.
It is important to note, though, that asbestos
has also been shown to cause mesothelioma
in family members of these workers and others with limited exposure
because microscopic asbestos fibers
can be transferred from clothing or uniforms.
has been definitively identified as the cause of peritoneal and other types
, it is still not completely banned in the United States.
In fact, throughout New York City, New York State and the Tri-state area, exposure
is still a real threat.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Development
When people directly handle materials that contain asbestos
— or work in an area where materials that contain asbestos
are being worked on — they can be exposed to microscopic asbestos fibers
In most cases, these fibers are inhaled, which can result in the most common form of the cancer
– pleural mesothelioma
. However, these asbestos fibers
can also be swallowed and lodge in the peritoneum tissue
that lines the abdominal cavity, the organs
in it and lymph nodes.
When asbestos fibers
are ingested, they can get stuck in the abdomen and stay in the body for years before showing signs of irritation and eventually peritoneal mesothelioma
Experts warn that it can take 15 to 60 years for it to develop, meaning most victims are older people who were exposed to asbestos
Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Symptoms can often be confused with symptoms
from other abdominal illnesses or diseases. Most people suffering from peritoneal mesothelioma
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Ascites (a build-up of fluid in the abdominal area)
- Lumps of in the abdomen
- Weight loss
can mimic other problems, it may take months for a patient
to receive a proper diagnosis
In that time, the disease can spread aggressively, leaving the patient
with fewer treatment options.
Therefore, if you or a loved one is experiencing these types of symptoms
and may have been exposed to asbestos
, discuss this with your physician
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Diagnosis
The doctor typically starts with a physical exam and asks about a patient
’s history. It is important for patients
to tell their mesothelioma doctors
if they have been exposed to asbestos
. The sooner a peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis
can be made, the better.
will order these tests to make a peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis
- X-ray, CT scan or MRI: These diagnostic imaging tests can help identify tumors and the cancer’s location. However, they are not detailed enough to diagnosis the cancer as peritoneal mesothelioma.
- Fine needle aspiration: A very small needle is used to collect fluid and tissue from the abdomen, which is then tested for abnormalities and signs of cancer.
- Biopsy: Doctors will need to take tissue samples with a biopsy to make a peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis.This can be done through a peritoneoscopy, where the abdominal wall is cut and a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and camera is inserted into the abdomen. It can also be done through a laparotomy, where a physician makes an incision in the wall of the abdomen to look for signs of the cancer.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Treatment Options
Because many peritoneal mesothelioma patients do not receive a diagnosis
until the cancer
is in the advanced staging system, most peritoneal mesothelioma treatment
is palliative (aimed at relieving pain and making the person comfortable), rather than curative (aimed at killing the cancer
cells and preventing cell growth).
healthy enough to undergo surgery
, peritoneal mesothelioma treatment may consist of cytoreduction surgery
combined with heated chemotherapy
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Cytoreduction Surgery
Also known as debulking, cytoreduction surgery
aims to remove all visible cancer
from the peritoneal cavity.
This can be complicated, as the cancer
may have spread to the omentum (a sheet of fat in the abdomen) and organs
such as the spleen, pancreas, intestines, liver, colon, uterus, ovaries, stomach, bladder and gallbladder.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Heated Intraoperative Chemotherapy (HIPEC)
While the patient
is in surgery
can administer heated chemotherapy
directly to the abdominal area, a treatment
that can be more effective than traditional chemotherapy
In addition, patients
may opt for radiation, medication or clinical trials as treatments
for peritoneal mesothelioma
Prognosis & Life Expectancy for Patients with Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Approximately 200 to 400 people are diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma
each year in New York and throughout the United States, according to a report in the Medscape General Medicine journal.
The American Cancer
Society estimates the median survival time can range from 12 to 21 months, depending on how early the cancer
is diagnosed. A peritoneal mesothelioma
prognosis will also depend on the patient
’s health, age, gender and the type of cancer cells detected
If you are facing a peritoneal mesothelioma
diagnosis, be aware that there is a support community of mesothelioma
specialists, nurses, patients
, caregivers and advocates here to help you and your loved ones through your journey.
Sources & Author:
- American Cancer Society: Survival Statistics for Mesothelioma
- Cancer Research UK: What mesothelioma is
- Medscape General Medicine: Peritoneal Mesothelioma: A Review
- Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation: About Peritoneal Mesothelioma
- National Cancer Institute: Malignant Mesothelioma Treatment (PDQ®)