Peritoneal mesothelioma is a form of cancer affecting the lining of the stomach.
What is peritoneal mesothelioma?
Although mesothelioma is commonly associated with the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), in approximately 25% of cases it can also affect the lining of the stomach (the peritoneum). Less common still is pericardium mesothelioma which accounts for approximately 1% of all mesotheliomas, affecting the sac of the heart.
Peritoneal mesothelioma caused by ingesting asbestos fibres
Peritoneal mesothelioma, like other forms of mesothelioma, in the majority of cases is caused as a result of asbestos exposure. However, unlike pleural mesothelioma, it is thought the asbestos fibres are ingested (i.e. swallowed). This may be as a result of inhaling the fibres, coughing them up and then swallowing them. The sharp fibres can then lodge in the lining of the abdomen.
Someone may have been exposed directly to asbestos during the course of their work or indirectly – for example, women who have washed their husband’s dusty work overalls. Some may also have been exposed simply by working in a public building, such as a school.
It may be many years after someone has been exposed to asbestos that symptoms start, sometimes up to 50-60 years. Symptoms include stomach pain, swelling and tenderness; loss of appetite; weight loss; constipation or diarrhoea.
Treatment options for peritoneal mesothelioma
Treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma includes surgery to try and remove the tumour. However, to have the surgery you need to be fit and well. If the mesothelioma is advanced then surgery may be available to take away as much of the tumour as possible, known as “debulking” surgery. Surgery may also be combined with chemotherapy.
Immunotherapy is another possible treatment but is only currently available through clinical trials or privately.
If fluid builds up in the abdomen this can be drained to relieve symptoms.
There is currently no cure for mesothelioma although it is thought that life expectancy is longer for those diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma than those suffering from pleural mesothelioma.
Getting help and advice
If you have been exposed to asbestos and are experiencing any symptoms you should make an appointment to see your GP and inform your doctor of your asbestos exposure.
Our experienced experts are here to advise you about bringing a compensation claim. We will do our best to ensure your case is dealt with as quickly and sympathetically as possible.
Should you wish to discuss anything arising from this article, please contact Sara Hunt, partner and asbestos specialist [email protected] or 03700 864 221.
Pictured above: Sara Hunt, partner and asbestos specialist