Peritoneal Malignancy

What is peritoneal malignancy?

Peritoneal malignancy or peritoneal cancer is a rare form of cancer that develops in the thin layer of tissue that lines the abdomen. This layer also covers the uterus, bladder, and rectum and is made up of the epithelial cells. The layer is termed the peritoneum and produces a fluid for the smooth movement of the organs within the abdominal cavity.

What are the causes & risk factors of peritoneal malignancy?

The exact causes of peritoneal malignancies are yet unascertained, but the risk of the condition is seen to be higher in women, when compared to men. Some studies indicate that the roots of the cancer are in the ovarian tissue implants that remain left behind during fetal development. While there are other studies which point to the peritoneal changes that may occur at the later stages of life as the cause of the condition.

Increasing age, presence of certain genetic mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, and increased risk factor for ovarian cancer are some of the other risk factors for peritoneal malignancy.

What are the signs & symptoms of peritoneal malignancy?

Peritoneal malignancies are hard to detect and may remain asymptomatic until the disease is in the much-advanced stage. Also, the symptoms are largely similar to symptoms of ovarian cancer, which makes it a little more difficult to identify the disease. Some of the common symptoms of peritoneal cancer would be:

  1. Abdominal discomfort
  2. Nausea & diarrhoea 
  3. Recurring constipation
  4. Loss of appetite 
  5. Unintended weight loss
  6. Frequent urination
  7. Rectal bleeding

How can we prevent peritoneal malignancy?

Prevention of peritoneal malignancies is possible by limiting the use of oral contraceptives, encouraging breastfeeding, having a timely pregnancy and having a healthy lifestyle overall. Given that the exact cause of peritoneal cancer is yet unascertained, it is currently difficult to outline the exact and accurate preventive measures.

What are the treatment options for peritoneal malignancy?

The treatment options for peritoneal malignancies are dependent on the stage of the cancer, the size and the location of the tumor(s), the age of the patient and the patient’s overall health condition. Surgery is the primary treatment form which helps – diagnose, stage and remove the tumors. 

Chemotherapy and palliative care also play and important role in the holistic treatment of a patient suffering from peritoneal malignancies.

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