Peritoneal Mesothelioma
This type of cancer is found in the abdomen in a thin membrane called the peritoneum. Symptoms include abdominal swelling, loss of appetite, and weakness. The only known cause to this disease is exposure to asbestos. Due to the latency effect of this cancer, this exposure is likely to have taken place 20 or more years ago. The incidence is approximately one per 1,000,000; approximately one fifth to one third of all mesotheliomas are peritoneal.


The most common risk factor by far is any type of exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring silicate mineral with strong, long thin fibrous crystals that are heat resistant. Anyone involved in mining this substance, or demolition of structures built before the mid nineteen eighties, has a strong possibility of being exposed. Anyone living with or in any way in physical contact with someone who has had asbestos exposure also runs the risk of being exposed. Asbestos exposure affects individuals differently, people with a long history of exposure or high levels of exposure and young people run the highest risk of developing mesothelioma. It can take up to forty years for the effect of the exposure to become evident. People with inhibited lung capacity or lung problems due to asthma, smoking or any other lung affecting disease or practice, increases the risk that mesothelioma may develop no matter the exposure amount.

Research has shown a connection between mesothelioma and ‘Simian Virus 40 (SV40). This virus was originally found carried in monkeys but has been increasingly appearing in human populations. People numbering in the millions may have suffered exposure to this virus from polio vaccinations administered between the years of 1955 and 1963. The polio vaccine was created using cells from monkeys. It was found that SV40 contained in the vaccines had the potential of contributing to cancer and it was removed. Thorium Dioxide, a radioactive substance used with x-rays was found to be linked to mesothelioma and cancer in general, its use was discontinued.

Treatment for this cancer has improved significantly in the past years (especially when diagnosed early) and there are many promising trials and ongoing studies. The management of peritoneal mesothelioma has changed as doctors have more experience with it and now involves cytoreductive surgery, and a combination chemotherapy regimen.

There are also numerous cancer centers throughout the country that have departments and doctors that specialize in treating mesothelioma.

Management of mesothelioma.