Peritoneal mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers the abdominal wall. Signs and symptoms may include swollen abdomen, pain or fatigue. This cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos.
It can take more than 40 years from asbestos exposure to a diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma. Imaging studies such as X-rays or CT scans may help in the diagnosis, but confirmation of peritoneal mesothelioma usually comes from a tissue biopsy.
This cancer occurs in less than 1,000 people in the United States every year. Rates of this mesothelioma vary throughout the world and are highest in Australia and the United Kingdom. Diagnosis typically occurs in people over the age of 65, but peritoneal mesothelioma has occurred in people much younger.
Today, conventional treatment may include surgery in combination with chemotherapy (cisplatin and Alimta). The combination of cytoreductive surgery and intraoperative hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is becoming the standard of care when appropriate. According to medical studies, the median survival with this type of approach can be as much as 5 years.
Nonetheless, there is still a lot of depressing information on the internet about peritoneal mesothelioma and the survival associated with this cancer. To help balance some of this negative information, we present some case histories of long-term peritoneal mesothelioma survival as published in the peer reviewed medical literature.
9 Years + With Peritoneal Mesothelioma
In November 1979, a 73 year-old man had abdominal pain and distension and was found to have an abdominal mass. A laparotomy was performed that revealed peritoneal malignancy with ascites. A biopsy demonstrated that the tumor was malignant peritoneal mesothelioma. No special treatment was recommended other than draining of the ascites. In spite of the continuing ascites and the gradually-enlarging abdominal masses, the patient enjoys good health, and lives independently at home. How many more years (in excess of 9) this patient lived with peritoneal mesothelioma is not known.
See: Norman, P.E. and Whitaker, D., Nine-Year Survival in a Case of Untreated Peritoneal Mesothelioma, Med J Aust 1989; 150: 43-44.
15 Years + With Peritoneal Mesothelioma
A woman was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma. She had surgery (“total excision”). Seven years later the peritoneal mesothelioma recurred and she had another surgery (“reexcision”). She remains well 15 years after the initial diagnosis. The patient did not receive chemotherapy.
See: Asensio, J.A., et al., Primary Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma: A Report of Seven Cases and a Review of the Literature, Arch Surg; Nov 1990, 125, 1477-1480.
17 + Years of Peritoneal Mesothelioma
In 1962, a 31 year-old woman had abdominal pain for several months and a mass was detected. She underwent exploratory laparotomy which found tumor nodules spread throughout her abdomen. The diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma was made. Complete surgical removal of the tumor was not possible. She was treated with radioactive phosphorus, radiation, and oral chemotherapy (cytoxan). She remained well for 17 years. In 1979 she had recurrent peritoneal mesothelioma. She was treated with cytoxan again and continued to live as of the writing of the published medical report.
See: Brenner, J., et al., Seventeen Year Survival in a Patient with malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma; Clinical Oncology 1981, 7, 249-251.