What is peritoneal mesothelioma?

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Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer caused by asbestos. It affects the thin tissue lining the abdomen (called the peritoneum).  It is caused by inhaling or ingesting tiny, microscopic asbestos fibres that get lodged in the peritoneum. Over a long period (typically over 20 years or more), irritation from the asbestos fibres causes inflammation and scarring. This leads to the growth of cancerous mesothelioma tumours.

What are the symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma?

The symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include:

  • Swelling in the abdomen (tummy)
  • Feeling bloated
  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Changes to normal bowel patterns, such as constipation or diarrhoea
  • Fatigue

However, the symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma can be caused by conditions other than mesothelioma or cancer, so it is important to see a doctor, particularly if the symptoms persist longer than a couple of weeks.

How is peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosed?

According to Mesothelioma UK, mesothelioma is not an easy disease to diagnose. Peritoneal mesothelioma is diagnosed after a series of tests. A diagnosis often starts with a CT scan or X-ray and includes blood tests. Biopsies (when a doctor takes a tissue sample) are the only way to confirm the peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis.

Does peritoneal mesothelioma affect women more than men?

Almost 75% of all mesothelioma cases diagnosed among men and women are pleural mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the lungs). However, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma.

A study in Italy identified that misdiagnosis can be particularly high in women. Researchers believe there is ‘a possible elevated susceptibility of the peritoneal mesothelium in women to the carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effect of asbestos.’

Studies in the US have identified that compared to pleural mesothelioma, which has a male predominance (male to female ratio of between four and five to one), women comprise approximately one-half of all cases of peritoneal mesothelioma.

Can women claim compensation for peritoneal mesothelioma?

Yes, women can claim compensation for peritoneal mesothelioma.

Compensation claims made by men far outweigh the number of claims made by women.  This is because traditionally men have worked in industries that have increased their exposure to asbestos. However, increasing numbers of women are being diagnosed with mesothelioma.

In the past, women were often exposed to asbestos by coming into contact with their father or husband when they were wearing work clothes covered in asbestos dust or fibres. However, there is a growing awareness that women have also been exposed to asbestos at work – employed in factories where asbestos was present and older buildings, such as schools and hospitals, which also contain asbestos.

It can sometimes be difficult for women to identify where they were exposed to asbestos due to their varied work history in different jobs and settings, and the fact they may not have worked in industries associated with asbestos exposure.

That is why it is vital to speak to a specialist asbestos disease solicitor who is an expert at investigating compensation claims and has a strong track record supporting women with mesothelioma.

To read more about peritoneal mesothelioma, Mesothelioma UK has a useful guide.

If you would like to learn more about making an asbestos-related claim, call us on Freephone 0800 884 0777, email info@novumlaw.com or fill out our online enquiry form for a free, no-obligation chat.

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