Peritoneal Cancer

Peritoneal cancer is a rare cancer that develops in the peritoneum. The peritoneum is thin sheet made of epithelial cells that lines the inside wall of the abdomen, covers the uterus, and expands over the rectum and bladder. Peritoneal cancer looks and acts like ovarian cancer. Since the surface of the ovaries is made of epithelial cells, just like the peritoneum, peritoneal cancer is treated much the same way ovarian cancer is treated.

The causes of peritoneal cancer are unknown. It is more common in women than in men and women at risk for ovarian cancer, especially those with BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 mutations, are also at an increased risk for peritoneal cancer.

Symptoms of peritoneal cancer generally don’t appear until late in the development of the disease. When they do develop, they are similar to those experienced with ovarian cancer, such as:

  • Abdominal discomfort and pain
  • Gas, indigestion
  • Abdominal pressure, swelling, bloating, and cramps
  • Feeling full even after a small meal
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Frequent urination
  • Los of appetite
  • Weight loss or gain for no apparent reason
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding

Diagnosing peritoneal cancer can involve the following:

  • Physical exam
  • Ultrasound
  • CA-125 blood test
  • CT scan
  • Lower or upper GI xrays or barium enema
  • Biopsy
  • Paracentesis

Treatment options for peritoneal cancer can include:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy
  • Supportive care