Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare form of mesothelioma first described at the start of the 20th century by Miller and Wynn. It accounts for approximately 10 - 20% of all mesothelioma cancers. In 2010 HSE statistics document 77 deaths from peritoneal mesothelioma compared with 651 deaths from pleural mesothelioma in the UK (note there were an additional 1632 mesothelioma deaths in 2010 - site not specified or in both areas).
The peritoneum develops from the mesoderm at the embryonic stage and is composed of a layer of mesothelial cells supported by connective tissue.
The peritoneum literally means ‘stretched over or around’ and is composed of 2 sub layers known as the parietal and visceral layers.
The parietal layer lines the inside of the abdominal cavity whilst the visceral layer covers the organs in the abdomen.
There is a potential cavity between the layers where a small amount (approximately 50ml) of serous fluid helps to lubricate the 2 layers and allow smooth movement.
The majority of peritoneal mesothelioma cases arise after exposure to asbestos.A minority of cases are thought to be caused by radiation exposure, thorium, erionite or mica exposure. Following exposure the mesothelial cells become inflamed and the peritoneum starts to thicken. Tumour cells start to form and there is a build-up of fluid in the peritoneal cavity causing pressure on the internal abdominal organs. This is known as ascites.
Management of Peritoneal Mesothelioma
Peritoneal mesothelioma is often difficult to diagnose as the symptoms mimic other abdominal conditions and there is a long latent period after asbestos exposure - often 30 years - before symptoms appear. These include:
- pain in the abdomen
- bowel problems e.g. diarrhoea, constipation
- night sweats
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- abdominal swelling
During the diagnosis stage, the doctor will need to take a full medical history, perform tests examining your physical condition and ask questions about any exposure to asbestos. X-rays and CT scans of the abdomen and other parts of the body will help detect any abnormalities present but a biopsy, where cells are taken for sampling, is the definitive diagnostic test for peritoneal mesothelioma.
There is no special staging system for peritoneal mesothelioma but sometimes the TNM system is used by doctors where they describe the size and extent of the tumour, and if it has spread to the local lymph nodes or to another part of the body.
Unfortunately the prognosis for peritoneal mesothelioma is poor with the mean symptom-to-survival-time being less than 1 year. However work is ongoing in this area and treatment is available to help relieve symptoms of the disease and in some cases prolong life.
Treatment choices should be decided in consultation with a specialist mesothelioma doctor who can advise on the best options available to you: chemotherapy using drugs such as pemetrexed, cisplatin, carboplatin, and gemcitabine, radiotherapy, surgery or a combination of these. There have been some promising results with heated chemotherapy, where warm chemotherapy drugs are placed directly into the abdominal cavity. This is usually carried out with cytoreductive surgery and is more effective in patients with early stage disease.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma Claim
Whilst we recognise that receiving compensation for peritoneal mesothelioma will in no way make up for enduring such a debilitating condition, it can alleviate some of the associated financial burden for yourself and your family. Just in this month alone our specialist asbestos solicitor has taken on 2 cases of peritoneal mesothelioma and she will use her experience to help you and your family gain the maximum award.
If you would like to speak to someone about making a claim for peritoneal mesothelioma then please call on the free phone number below and ask for Warren Miller or Kathy Cooke.