Mesothelioma is a form a cancer that affects the lining around a particular internal organ. Generically, this lining is called the mesothelium, but goes also goes by a name that’s more specific to its respective organ. The pleura, for example, is the lining around the lungs, and pleural mesothelioma is the most common form of the disease. Another common form affects the peritoneum, which is the membrane lining the abdominal cavity. This is called peritoneal mesothelioma.
Most cases of meso-70 to 80%-are cause by asbestos that’s inhaled or otherwise ingested. Some types of works sites are inherently prone to asbestos exposure, such as older houses being renovated. Asbestos has been largely out of production in the United States for nearly 40 years, when the evidence linking the disease with the material between too abundant to ignore, but unfortunately, mesothelioma has a latency period of 20 to 50 years between exposure and the first symptoms manifesting themselves.
In peritoneal mesothelioma, asbestos fibers lodge themselves into the mesothelium, and remain in place for years, causing inflammation. Over time, this continual inflammation results in the development of mesothelioma tumors that spread to cover the whole abdominal cavity.
Abdominal swelling due to fluid buildup (ascites) is the symptom that’s usually noticed first. Other symptoms include vomiting, appetite loss, stomach pain, rapid weight loss, nausea, blood clotting in the legs, and obstruction in the bowels. If the cancer cells in the local tumors metastasize, then the malignant peritoneal mesothelioma can travel upward from the abdominal cavity to put pressure on the throat, making it hard to breath or swallow.