Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare but aggressive tumor derived from the peritoneal mesothelium, or the protective membranous lining around the abdomen. Sometimes referred to as abdominal mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma is the second most common mesothelioma form, accounting for about 15% to 30% of all diagnosed mesothelioma cases worldwide.

Cause of Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Like all mesothelioma types, peritoneal mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos, a mineral useful for its heat-resistant properties, consists of many tiny particles that can break off and float in the air. When inhaled, asbestos particles lodge in the body and can cause diseases, such as cancer. 

While asbestos fibers usually lodge in the lining around the lungs, doctors have different theories as to why some individuals develop peritoneal mesothelioma rather than pleural (lung) mesothelioma. First, some experts believe the asbestos fibers are transported through the lymph node system to the peritoneal cavity. Others maintain that the fibers are ingested and make their way to the peritoneal cavity through the intestinal tract. Finally, some researchers believe that the fibers are captured in the throat by mucus and are swallowed.

Regardless of how asbestos fibers get into the peritoneal cavity, their presence in the abdominal area causes inflammation, and eventually, peritoneal mesothelioma tumors form. The tumors grow and spread, and ultimately cover the entire abdominal cavity.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

Symptoms associated with peritoneal mesothelioma may vary with each patient and can be affected by the tumor location and size, as well as the patient’s age and general health. In addition, symptoms associated with peritoneal mesothelioma will often mimic other, less serious, health conditions. These symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain, acute to severe
  • Swelling of the abdominal region due to fluid accumulation
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Loss of appetite resulting in weight loss
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Fever
  • Anemia

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Prognosis

Unfortunately, peritoneal mesothelioma is regarded as a universally fatal disease. While peritoneal mesothelioma could theoretically be cured if caught in its early stages, almost all peritoneal mesothelioma cases are diagnosed in the disease’s late stages. Factors contributing to delayed diagnosis include:

1. Symptoms that often do not develop right away2. Symptoms that are easily misdiagnosed

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Contact us today to learn about your legal rights.

Published November 17, 2011 by