Peritoneal Cancer is a rare form of cancer which develops in peritoneum, that is a thin membrane comprising of epithelial cells forming the lining of abdomen. The peritoneum covers uterus and extends over the bladder as well as the rectum. The function of the peritoneum is to produce lubricating fluid to ease the movement of the organs within the abdomen or e.g., the intestines, the stomach, and the liver to prevent them from sticking together as well.
Types of Peritoneal Cancer
There are two types of Peritoneal Cancer namely, primary and secondary:
Primary Peritoneal Cancer is so called as it originates in the peritoneum. The cancer is known to exclusively affect women and as it enacts itself in a manner similar to ovarian cancer, it is often treated as such.
When the cancerous cells from other parts of the body such as the digestive system, ovaries, lungs and breast metastasize into peritoneum, it is referred to as Secondary Peritoneal Cancer. Secondary peritoneal cancer has been known to affect men as well. The causes of this cancer are still unknown but the aging process is believed to be a high risk factor for primary peritoneal cancer. At times this cancer has been linked to a defective inherited gene; however, only 10% of ovarian and primary peritoneal cancers are genetically linked.
Symptoms of Peritoneal Cancer
The signs and symptoms of peritoneal cancer are not very specific as these symptoms can be produced by many other health conditions as well. Unfortunately, because of the vague nature of these symptoms, peritoneal cancer is usually diagnosed in the advanced stage of the disease, when achieving a cure is difficult. Some of the symptoms are:
- Loss of Appetite
- Swelling in abdomen due to accumulation of fluid in peritoneal cavity
- Abdominal pain, especially in lower abdomen
- Unexplained weight loss/gain
- Diarrhea or constipation
- An early feeling of fullness after eating
- Nausea and bloating
- Unusual vaginal bleeding
- Frequent urination