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Peritoneal Mesothelioma | Simmons Mesothelioma Foundation

Simmons Mesothelioma Foundation

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Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Unlike pleural mesothelioma, which affects the lungs, peritoneal mesothelioma attacks the abdominal lining, also known as the “peritoneum.” Peritoneal mesothelioma accounts for about 20-30% of new mesothelioma cases, with only 200-500 new cases diagnosed each year. Unfortunately, because peritoneal mesothelioma usually goes undetected until its final stages, the cancer’s median survival rate is only 6-12 months.1


Peritoneal mesothelioma can be extremely difficult to diagnose because it shares symptoms with so many common diseases. In fact, the average time between the appearance of peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms and a successful diagnosis is 122 days.2 Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma can include:

  • Abdominal Pain – This is the most common symptom associated with peritoneal mesothelioma. This pain could either be caused by growing tumors or excess fluid.
  • Abdominal Swelling – Abdominal swelling due to excess fluid in the abdomen, also called ascites, is present in many cases of peritoneal mesothelioma. Doctors do not diagnose peritoneal mesothelioma based on the presence of ascites alone, however, since this condition is most often caused by other diseases like cirrhosis of the liver.
  • Nausea, Vomiting and Weight Loss – As mesothelioma tumors grow, they can cause discomfort and nausea. This nausea can lead to vomiting and a loss of appetite.


While there’s currently no cure for peritoneal mesothelioma, doctors do use a variety of treatments to reduce it or ease its symptoms. The most common forms of peritoneal mesothelioma treatments are cytoreductive surgery and intraperitoneal chemotherapy.3

Cytoreductive surgery cuts visible mesothelioma tumors out of the peritoneal cavity. Doctors have differing opinions on how cytoreductive surgery should be performed. Some perform riskier extensive surgery where they remove all the tumors they can find, while others only perform minimal debulking and attempt to supplement treatments with chemotherapy.

The chemotherapy treatment most often used in conjunction with surgery is intraperitoneal chemotherapy. Through this treatment, a patient receives chemotherapy directly into the peritoneal cavity through a catheter or port. Chemotherapy drugs like cisplatin may also be taken through an injection.

Finally, many doctors perform clinical trials to investigate new forms of peritoneal mesothelioma treatment. Learn more about the latest mesothelioma clinical trials by conducting a search through the National Cancer Institute’s online database.


See related mesothelioma topics:

Peritoneal Mesothelioma: A Review