The peritoneum is a membrane that surrounds and supports many abdominal organs. Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer that occurs in the peritoneum. Although peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common form of mesothelioma, only 200 to 400 new cases are diagnosed each year. Peritoneal mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer with no known cures, although treatment options can improve a person’s short-term prognosis.
As with other forms of mesothelioma, the only known cause of peritoneal mesothelioma is through exposure to asbestos. It can take decades before exposure to asbestos manifests itself as symptoms of mesothelioma. In fact, people between the ages of 50 and 69 are the most commonly impacted age group. Peritoneal mesothelioma is more common in men than in women. Most commonly, men contract mesothelioma from previous jobs, while women contract mesothelioma from repeated exposure to someone who was repeatedly exposed to asbestos.
Mesothelioma of any kind is caused by a business or government entity that allowed people to be exposed to asbestos. These entities knew or should have known of the dangers of asbestos, but they continued to allow people to be exposed to this substance.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms
This disease is often difficult to diagnose in its early stages, partly because of the rarity of the disease, but also because its symptoms can be easily confused with other conditions. Symptoms include abdominal pain, abdominal swelling and weight loss. Consequently, peritoneal mesothelioma is often diagnosed in its later stages, when treatment options are relatively limited.
Treatments for Peritoneal Mesothelioma
In cases where peritoneal mesothelioma is diagnosed early on, surgery can be a viable option to slow the spread of the disease. The goal in this surgery is to remove as much of the cancerous fibers as possible. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments can also be effective in slowing the growth of the cancer. Despite these options, the median survival rate for peritoneal mesothelioma is approximately one year. In some cases, a combination of surgery and chemotherapy has been shown to improve median survival rates.