Cancer Diseases Internal diseases Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma Types: Peritoneal Mesothelioma

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Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer found in the peritoneum, a thin membrane surrounding the abdomen. Caused by asbestos exposure, peritoneal mesothelioma is extremely rare, and the prognosis is generally poor.

What You Need to Know About Peritoneal Mesothelioma

  • Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common form of asbestos-related cancer.
  • Fewer than 500 people are diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma each year.
  • Standard treatments include debulking surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation
  • Cytoreductive surgery with Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) has shown promise as an effective therapy for significantly improving survival.

Cause: Asbestos inhalation or ingestion

Location: Abdominal lining (peritoneum)

Common Symptoms

  • Abdominal/stomach pain
  • Ascites/swelling
  • Anorexia/weight loss


  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation

Prognosis  6 – 12 months


Peritoneal Mesothelioma Overview



Peritoneal mesothelioma (formally known as diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma) is the second-most common type after pleural mesothelioma, accounting for approximately 15 – 20 percent of all new mesothelioma cases each year. There are four key differences between peritoneal mesothelioma and other types of the disease:

Location: Peritoneal mesothelioma occurs in the abdominal lining (peritoneum), a dual-layer membrane that surrounds the stomach and other abdominal organs. The visceral layer protects organs like the liver and gall bladder within the abdomen, while the parietal layer covers the outside of the abdomen.

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Symptoms: Due to the location of the disease, peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms most often develop in the abdomen and/or gastrointestinal system, rather than the chest and lungs.

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Treatment: The most effective treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma is cytoreductive surgery followed by Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC) – a heated chemotherapy “wash” that kills cancer cells within the abdomen.

Survival: Peritoneal mesothelioma patients generally have a better prognosis and survival rate than those with other forms of the disease


What is the Prognosis for Peritoneal Mesothelioma?

While the prognosis for all forms of mesothelioma is generally poor, the life expectancy for peritoneal mesothelioma is somewhat better than for other types of malignant mesothelioma. The median survival period for abdominal mesothelioma is 1 year, and the longest known survival was 19 years.

Patients who undergo cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC have significantly better survival rates. According to one study, approximately half of peritoneal mesothelioma patients who undergo this form of treatment lived more than five years.

What are the Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma?

The symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma can take decades to appear after inhalation or ingestion of asbestos fibers. When symptoms do start to appear, they typically develop first in the abdomen and/or gastrointestinal system, though some symptoms (like weight loss or fever) can be systemic.

Common Symptoms

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Anorexia / weight loss
  • Ascites (fluid in the peritoneal cavity)

How is Peritoneal Mesothelioma Diagnosed?

Because the symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma are often similar to those of other diseases, diagnosis can be difficult. Usually, diagnostic tests focus on first ruling out more common diseases and other forms of cancer.

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As part of the mesothelioma diagnosis process, the doctor will determine the stage of the cancer. Although there is no staging system for peritoneal mesothelioma, doctors may try to identify how advanced the disease is using relevant criteria, like if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other organs.

What Treatments are Available for Peritoneal Mesothelioma?

All types of mesothelioma are treated using a combination of three types of therapy:

  • Surgery – Known as debulking or cytoreduction, the primary goal is to remove as much of the tumor(s) as possible.
  • Chemotherapy – A systemic drug treatment (usually administered intravenously) that kills fast-growing cells, including mesothelioma cancer cells.
  • Radiation – A blast of targeted radiation to reduce the size of cancer tumors.

Finding a qualified mesothelioma specialist is one of the most important decisions that someone diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma can make. Many of the best doctors work in dedicated cancer clinics across the country. Some of those doctors also conduct clinical trials to study new therapies and methods of treating mesothelioma.

Costs Related to Treating Peritoneal Mesothelioma

As with any cancer, peritoneal mesothelioma treatment costs can be very high. Costs usually fall into the following categories:

  • Diagnostic costs
  • Treatment costs
  • Recovery and follow-up costs

The amount an individual may spend depends on many factors, including the specific diagnosis, the stage at which the disease is discovered, their insurance coverage, and even where they live.

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Because malignant peritoneal mesothelioma is caused by asbestos, individuals diagnosed with this form of cancer may be eligible to receive legal compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering related to the disease.

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