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Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

Peritoneal mesothelioma forms in the abdominal lining and causes symptoms like bloating or swelling, stomach pain, weight loss, and reduced appetite. See a doctor immediately if you have these symptoms — especially if you were exposed to asbestos, the only known cause of mesothelioma. Learn more about peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms and how we can help you find top doctors now.

Fact-Checked and Updated by: Jenna Tozzi, RN

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What Are the Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma?

Abdominal swelling and pain are the most common symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the peritoneum (the lining of the abdomen).

Other malignant peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Ascites (fluid buildup in abdominal lining)
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Night sweats
  • Vomiting
  • Unexplained weight loss

These symptoms typically develop 10-50 years after exposure to asbestos, a toxic mineral that causes mesothelioma and other illnesses.

You should seek help from a doctor if you are experiencing signs and symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma and were exposed to asbestos earlier in life.

Doctors can confirm if your symptoms mean you have mesothelioma cancer and recommend treatments to make you more comfortable and potentially improve your survival.

Learn more about peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms and treatments with our Free Mesothelioma Guide, shipped overnight to you.

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Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms by Stage

Peritoneal mesothelioma is not classified into stages at this time, but doctors may describe cases as ‘early’ or ‘advanced’ depending on the spread of tumors. How far the cancer has spread can affect which symptoms a patient experiences.

Early Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma

The first peritoneal mesothelioma cancer symptom is usually abdominal distention (bloating), followed by pain in the abdomen.

A report in the Annals of Translational Medicine found that up to 80% of peritoneal mesothelioma patients develop abdominal bloating. Further, as many as 58% of patients suffer from stomach pain.

Patients may develop distention and pain due to ascites (peritoneal effusion) — fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity caused by peritoneal mesothelioma tumors.

However, many peritoneal mesothelioma patients won’t have any symptoms while the cancer is in an early stage, according to MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Advanced Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

As peritoneal mesothelioma progresses, patients will experience worsening abdominal pain and bloating due to the buildup of ascites.

Other symptoms of advanced peritoneal mesothelioma include:

  • Abdominal hernia
  • Cancerous mass in the abdomen
  • Bowel obstruction and constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite due to ascites
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss

Mary Jane Williams
Point of Hope

Mary Jane Williams suffered bloating, weight loss, pain, and sweating that worsened over a year. “It was like my insides were glued,” she said. She was finally diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma after seeing a specialist. She underwent major treatments and ultimately became a 15-year survivor.

Peritoneal mesothelioma rarely spreads beyond the abdomen, even in advanced cases, which is why many of the symptoms above are related to digestion.

If the cancer does happen to advance beyond the abdomen due to metastasis, other symptoms could develop. These include pleural effusion (fluid buildup in the lungs) and changes to the diaphragm (the muscle under the lungs that helps with breathing).

Do you have any symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma? Contact us right now for trusted medical guidance from our team of registered nurses and Patient Advocates.

When to See a Doctor for Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

It’s crucial to see a doctor as soon as possible if you have early signs of peritoneal mesothelioma.

Peritoneal mesothelioma is very aggressive and spreads quickly. Without prompt medical care, your symptoms could worsen and you may have fewer treatment options available by the time you’re diagnosed.

You’re especially encouraged to schedule a doctor’s visit if you were ever exposed to asbestos-containing products. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma.

Doctors can first assess your symptoms and then will use several tests to help determine what may be causing them.

Tests to confirm a peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis may include:

  • Blood tests: These help look for biomarkers (substances in blood that indicate the presence of cancer).
  • Imaging scans: X-rays, CT scans, and other imaging tests can reveal possibly cancerous masses or tumors.
  • Biopsies: This is the only way to confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis and involves examining a fluid or tissue sample from the patient to see if cancer cells are present.

After the diagnosis has been confirmed, you can get treatments to manage your symptoms and potentially improve your life expectancy.

Our registered nurses and Patient Advocates can connect you with top peritoneal mesothelioma specialists right now. Get started with our Free Doctor Match.

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How to Treat Peritoneal Mesothelioma Cancer Symptoms

Doctors can use different treatments to ease peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms and help patients live longer. Learn about mesothelioma treatments for symptoms below.

Life-Extending Treatments for Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

If oncologists (cancer doctors) diagnose a patient with early-stage peritoneal mesothelioma, treatments will focus on improving life expectancy while reducing symptoms.

Cytoreductive surgery with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is the most effective treatment to help peritoneal mesothelioma patients live longer. It allows doctors to remove tumors from the abdominal lining before flushing it with a heated chemotherapy solution to kill remaining cancer cells.

Patients live for over 4 years on average when they receive cytoreduction with HIPEC. Further, patients may have fewer or no peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms after recovering from this treatment since almost all of the cancer will be destroyed.

Julie Gundlach
Point of Hope

Julie Gundlach was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma 2006 at the age of 35. Originally given 6-12 months to live, she has received cytoreductive surgery with HIPEC 5 times and is still living today. Her cancer is now considered stable.

When surgery isn’t possible, chemotherapy and/or immunotherapy can also be used to help patients live longer and manage their peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms.

Palliative Treatments for Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

Doctors have developed many cancer treatments to ease symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma. These are known as palliative (pain-relieving) treatments.

Palliative treatments for peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Alternative therapies for pain relief like massage therapy, yoga, and acupuncture (consult a doctor before starting any of these)
  • Pain-relieving medications as recommended by doctors
  • Paracentesis, a minor surgery that’s used to drain ascites as needed
  • Catheters, which are devices that doctors can insert into the peritoneal cavity so patients can drain ascites at home rather than going to the hospital
  • Nutrition and exercise planning to stimulate appetite, counteract weight loss, and boost energy and overall mood

Palliative care can be used alongside life-extending treatments to help patients have the best possible quality of life.

Contact our team to find the best treatments to help manage your peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms.

Get Help for Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos and is now suffering from symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma, see a doctor to get diagnosed.

Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms like abdominal pain or swelling won’t go away on their own if you have cancer. Once your diagnosis is confirmed, doctors can recommend different treatments to reduce symptoms and improve your life expectancy.

Mesothelioma Hope has helped thousands of other families find top mesothelioma doctors, treatments, and hospitals faster and more easily. Our dedicated team is here to assist you and your family at every point in this journey.

Find top doctors near you now or call (866) 608-8933 to speak with our registered nurses and Patient Advocates.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms FAQs

What are 5 signs and symptoms of mesothelioma?

5 common symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include:

  • Abdominal swelling (distention)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Ascites (fluid buildup in abdominal lining)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss

If you or a loved one was ever exposed to asbestos and now have any of the symptoms above, it could mean you have peritoneal mesothelioma, even if the exposure happened decades ago.

A peritoneal mesothelioma doctor can order the proper tests and imaging scans to confirm your diagnosis.

What are end-stage peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms?

Signs of end-stage peritoneal mesothelioma include significant weight loss, noticeable abdominal swelling, and changes to bowel movements (constipation/diarrhea).

Even if you have advanced peritoneal mesothelioma, it’s still possible to get medical care to reduce your symptoms.

Call (866) 608-8933 to speak with one of our registered nurses who can recommend peritoneal mesothelioma doctors and treatments.

What should you do if you detect signs of peritoneal mesothelioma in a loved one?

If you notice signs or symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma in someone you love, encourage them to get medical care — especially if they were ever exposed to asbestos, which is the only known cause and biggest risk factor for this cancer.

Medical professionals at top mesothelioma cancer centers can offer a wide range of treatments to ease cancer symptoms and help your loved one live longer.

How do you treat peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms?

Doctors can use both life-extending treatments and palliative care to lessen peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms.

Major treatments like cytoreduction with HIPEC allow doctors to destroy as much of the cancer as possible, which can relieve symptoms and help patients live longer.

Palliative care specifically eases peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms. Common options include catheters to drain fluid buildup (ascites), pain medications, and personalized nutrition and exercise plans.

Talk to your doctor to learn which treatments will work best for your peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms.

Does cell type affect peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms?

No. Patients have similar peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms regardless of cell type. However, some cell types are more aggressive and could cause symptoms to worsen faster.

There are two types of mesothelioma cancer cells: epithelioid and sarcomatoid. If both cell types are present, the patient has biphasic mesothelioma. Epithelioid cells spread slower and are the easiest to treat.

Doctors can see which cell type you have with a test called a biopsy (which allows them to take a cell sample and confirm a cancer diagnosis). From there, they come up with a treatment plan to manage symptoms and possibly help you live longer.

Jenna TozziWritten by:

Director of Patient Advocacy

Jenna Tozzi, RN, is the Director of Patient Advocacy at Mesothelioma Hope. With more than 15 years of experience as an adult and pediatric oncology nurse navigator, Jenna provides exceptional guidance and support to mesothelioma patients and their loved ones. Jenna has been featured in Oncology Nursing News and is a member of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators & the American Nurses Association.

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  2. BD. (2020, April 6). BD PleurX Drainage Catheter System: Dr. Lawrence Ruzumma Patient Testimonial [Video File]. Retrieved February 2, 2024, from
  3. Broeckx, G., and Pauwels, P. (October 2018). Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma: a review. Retrieved February 2, 2024, from
  4. Cancer Council Australia. (n.d.). Pain. Retrieved February 2, 2024, from
  5. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Peritoneal Mesothelioma. Retrieved February 2, 2024, from
  6. Greenbaum, A., and Alexander, H.R. (February 2020). Peritoneal mesothelioma. Retrieved February 2, 2024, from
  7. Kim, J., Bhagwandin, S., & Labow, D. (June 2017). Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma: a review. Retrieved February 2, 2024, from
  8. Moffitt Cancer Center. (n.d.). Mesothelioma Survival Rates. Retrieved February 2, 2024, from
  9. Raeke, M. and Kimmons, L. (2021, September 15). 6 things to know about peritoneal mesothelioma. Retrieved February 2, 2024, from
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