Peritoneal mesothelioma, one of the three primary types of mesothelioma, affects the mesothelium of the abdomen (the peritoneum). The peritoneum lines the abdominal wall and covers the stomach, intestines and other vital organs. The parietal peritoneum covers the abdominal cavity, extending to cover the heart and lungs. The visceral peritoneum protects the upper part of the intestinal tract and the internal organs.
Peritoneal mesothelioma represents 15-20 percent of all mesothelioma cases and is the second most common form of the disease. As with all mesotheliomas, the only known cause of the peritoneal variety is exposure to asbestos. Microscopic asbestos fibers are ingested and travel to the peritoneum, where they become lodged. Though the precise mechanism that triggers the growth of mesothelioma tumors is not known, studies suggest that the asbestos fibers cause inflammation that ultimately causes tumors to develop.
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma will vary from patient to patient depending on a variety of factors
Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include the following:
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Coughing without signs of respiratory infection
- Pain in chest or abdomen
- The abdomen becomes swollen and taut (indicating fluid buildup)
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Hoarse or husky voice
- Difficulty swallowing
Because these symptoms are similar to those associated with common ailments, they are often overlooked. Symptoms will also vary from patient to patient depending on a variety of factors. In addition, mesothelioma has a lengthy latency period and often does not appear for 20 years or more, reducing the likelihood that an individual who is experiencing symptoms will link them to asbestos exposure in the past. If you have any history of asbestos exposure and are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is very important that you consult a doctor immediately for an evaluation.