Mesothelioma Attorneys

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Asbestos Cancer

Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer which affects the lining of the abdomen. It is caused by asbestos exposure. There is no cure for peritoneal mesothelioma and most victims live less than a year after diagnosis. Like any type of cancer, however, you chance of effective treatment is much greater when peritoneal mesothelioma is diagnosed early.

Peritoneal mesothelioma is the second-most common type of mesothelioma, accounting for about 10% to 20% of mesothelioma cases. It is possible to have both peritoneal mesothelioma and the more common pleural mesothelioma.

The Peritoneum

The peritoneum lines the abdominal and pelvic cavities and surrounds most of the abdominal organs. It protects, supports, and connects the abdominal organs. The peritoneum also produces a lubricating fluid that helps the organs move smoothly. The peritoneum has two layers:

  • Parietal peritoneum lines the abdominal wall and pelvic cavity.
  • Visceral peritoneum covers the organs

The peritoneum also has many folds. The omentum is the fold that hangs in front of the stomach and intestine. The mesentery is the fold that attaches the intestines to the abdominal cavity. The tunica vaginalis protects and supports the testicles.

Cause of Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Peritoneal mesothelioma is caused by asbestos fibers which have been ingested. Asbestos fibers can settle out of the air into your food and beverages, and are small enough that you would not be aware of it. Asbestos can also be ingested if fibers which have been inhaled are coughed up and then swallowed. The ingested fibers work their way out of the digestive organs and into the peritoneum.

Development and Effects of Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Asbestos fibers in the peritoneum irritation and inflammation leading to:

  • Thickening of the peritoneum membrane
  • Build up of fluid in the peritoneum
  • Tumors

All three put pressure on your internal organs causing pain and interfering with their function. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include:

  • Abdominal swelling, often coupled with weight loss
  • Stomach pain
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing problems
  • Anemia
  • Blood clotting abnormalities
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Lumps under the skin of the abdomen

Recognizing Peritoneal Mesothelioma

The symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma typically do not show up until 20 to 50 years have passed after asbestos exposure. Early symptoms may be non-existent or so mild that they are not recognized as the sign of a serious problem. Early detection and treatment of mesothelioma greatly increases your chance of extending your life and enjoying a better quality of life. If you have or suspect that you have a history of asbestos exposure, talk to your doctor about mesothelioma screening, even if you have not developed symptoms yet. It could save your life.