Peritoneal Mesothelioma: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment


Welcome to our comprehensive guide on peritoneal mesothelioma. This rare and aggressive cancer affects the lining of the abdomen, and while it is not as well-known as other forms of cancer, it can be just as devastating. In this article, we aim to provide you with a complete overview of peritoneal mesothelioma, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

First, let’s start by defining what peritoneal mesothelioma is. This type of cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was widely used in construction, manufacturing, and other industries until the 1970s. When asbestos fibers are inhaled or swallowed, they can become lodged in the lining of the lungs or abdomen, causing inflammation and scarring over time.

While peritoneal mesothelioma is relatively rare, it is estimated to account for around 20% of all mesothelioma cases. Like other types of mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma has a long latency period, meaning that it can take decades for symptoms to develop after exposure to asbestos. As a result, many people who are diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma are already in advanced stages of the disease.

In the next sections, we will take a closer look at the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for peritoneal mesothelioma.

The Causes of Peritoneal Mesothelioma

As we mentioned earlier, peritoneal mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos. This mineral was widely used in construction, manufacturing, and other industries until it was banned in many countries in the 1970s.

When asbestos fibers are inhaled or swallowed, they can enter the body and become lodged in the lining of the lungs or abdomen. Over time, these fibers can cause inflammation and scarring, which can eventually lead to cancer.

It’s important to note that not everyone who is exposed to asbestos will develop peritoneal mesothelioma. However, there are certain factors that can increase a person’s risk. For example, people who worked in industries where asbestos was commonly used, such as construction or shipbuilding, are at a higher risk of developing peritoneal mesothelioma. Additionally, people who were exposed to asbestos on a regular basis, or who were exposed to high levels of asbestos, are more likely to develop the disease.

Other risk factors for peritoneal mesothelioma include:

Risk Factors Explanation
Age Peritoneal mesothelioma is more common in people over the age of 60.
Gender Men are more likely to develop peritoneal mesothelioma than women.
Genetics Some people may be genetically predisposed to developing peritoneal mesothelioma.

The Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Like other types of cancer, peritoneal mesothelioma can cause a range of symptoms. However, because the disease is relatively rare and has a long latency period, it can be difficult to diagnose in its early stages.

Some common symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include:

  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Anemia

As the disease progresses, other symptoms may develop, such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
  • Chest pain

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor as soon as possible. While peritoneal mesothelioma is a serious and life-threatening disease, early detection and treatment can improve your chances of survival.

Diagnosing Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Diagnosing peritoneal mesothelioma can be challenging, as the disease shares many symptoms with other conditions. However, if your doctor suspects that you may have peritoneal mesothelioma, they will likely order a series of tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Some common tests used to diagnose peritoneal mesothelioma include:

  • Imaging tests, such as CT scans or MRI scans
  • Blood tests
  • Tissue biopsies

If the tests confirm that you have peritoneal mesothelioma, your doctor will likely refer you to an oncologist or other specialist to discuss treatment options.

Treatment Options for Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Like other types of cancer, peritoneal mesothelioma can be treated with a range of options, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. The best course of treatment for you will depend on the stage of your cancer, as well as your overall health and personal preferences.

Surgery is a common treatment option for peritoneal mesothelioma, and may involve removing the affected tissue and surrounding lymph nodes. In some cases, a procedure called debulking may be performed, which involves removing as much of the cancerous tissue as possible to reduce the size of the tumor.

Chemotherapy is another option for treating peritoneal mesothelioma, and involves using drugs to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy may also be used to shrink tumors and reduce symptoms.

In addition to these traditional treatment options, there are a number of experimental therapies that are being developed to treat peritoneal mesothelioma. These include immunotherapy, which uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells, and gene therapy, which involves altering the DNA of cancer cells to make them more vulnerable to treatment.

FAQs About Peritoneal Mesothelioma

1. What is the prognosis for peritoneal mesothelioma?

The prognosis for peritoneal mesothelioma depends on a number of factors, including the stage of the cancer at diagnosis, the age and overall health of the patient, and the response to treatment. However, on average, patients with peritoneal mesothelioma have a 5-year survival rate of around 20%.

2. What are the risk factors for developing peritoneal mesothelioma?

The main risk factor for developing peritoneal mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. However, other factors, such as age, gender, and genetics, may also increase a person’s risk.

3. Can peritoneal mesothelioma be cured?

While there is no cure for peritoneal mesothelioma, it can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. These treatments can help to slow the progression of the disease and improve quality of life for patients.

4. What are some common symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma?

Common symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include abdominal pain or swelling, weight loss, nausea or vomiting, loss of appetite, bowel obstruction, and anemia.

5. How is peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosed?

Peritoneal mesothelioma is diagnosed using a combination of imaging tests, blood tests, and tissue biopsies.

6. What are some treatment options for peritoneal mesothelioma?

Treatment options for peritoneal mesothelioma include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and experimental therapies, such as immunotherapy and gene therapy.

7. Can peritoneal mesothelioma be prevented?

While it may not be possible to completely prevent peritoneal mesothelioma, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. These include avoiding exposure to asbestos, wearing protective clothing when working with asbestos-containing materials, and seeking medical attention if you believe you may have been exposed to asbestos.

8. What is the difference between peritoneal mesothelioma and pleural mesothelioma?

Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdomen, while pleural mesothelioma affects the lining of the lungs.

9. How common is peritoneal mesothelioma?

Peritoneal mesothelioma is relatively rare, accounting for around 20% of all cases of mesothelioma.

10. Is peritoneal mesothelioma hereditary?

While there may be a genetic component to peritoneal mesothelioma, the disease is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos.

11. Can peritoneal mesothelioma be detected early?

Peritoneal mesothelioma can be difficult to detect in its early stages, as symptoms may not appear for several decades after exposure to asbestos.

12. What are some complications of peritoneal mesothelioma?

Complications of peritoneal mesothelioma may include bowel obstruction, anemia, and other symptoms related to the cancer itself or its treatment.

13. Where can I get treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma?

Treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma may be available at specialized cancer centers or hospitals. Your doctor can refer you to an appropriate specialist.


We hope this guide has provided you with a thorough understanding of peritoneal mesothelioma, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options. While this disease is rare and can be difficult to diagnose, it’s important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing any of the symptoms we’ve discussed. Remember, early detection and treatment can make a big difference in your chances of survival.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, we encourage you to explore all of your treatment options and to seek out support from family, friends, and medical professionals. With the right care and resources, it’s possible to manage this disease and to live a full and meaningful life.

Closing Disclaimer

This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.