Written By: Devin Golden

Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms are forms of discomfort or abnormalities that occur due to the potential presence of peritoneal tumors. These symptoms usually are related to the abdomen, which is where peritoneal mesothelioma forms. If you notice any signs of peritoneal mesothelioma, then you should contact your doctor to get their medical expertise and possibly undergo tests.

Karen Ritter, RN BSN

Medically Reviewed By

Karen Ritter, RN BSN

Registered Nurse

Karen Ritter, RN BSN

Medically Reviewed By

Karen Ritter, RN BSN

Registered Nurse


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Important Facts About Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

  • The main symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma are abdominal pain and fluid buildup in the abdomen. Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer of the peritoneum, which is a thin lining of the abdominal cavity.
  • Peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms can be similar to other common abdominal conditions. You should not make assumptions about your health. If you are having new or worsening symptoms, see your doctor for evaluation and testing.
  • Some of the other symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma are weight loss, loss of appetite, constipation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal distention, and abdominal cramping.

What Are the Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma?

The symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma relate to the abdominal cavity and stomach region, as this area is where the cancer begins. Peritoneal mesothelioma starts in the peritoneum, which is a thin lining that covers the inside of the abdominal cavity.

Most Common Symptoms

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Fluid buildup in the abdomen (ascites)

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Abdominal distension (swollen abdomen)

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Abdominal pain

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Loss of appetite

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Weight loss

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Constipation or obstructed bowel movements

According to one study, the most common complaint from patients diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma is abdominal distension. This symptom is present in up to 80% of patients. Abdominal pain is the second most common symptom: occurring in up to 58% of patients.

Other malignant peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Blood Clots
  • Fever
  • Night Sweats

People with peritoneal mesothelioma may not experience all or even most of these symptoms. These effects can occur in different stages of peritoneal mesothelioma, and some do not occur at all.

Making Assumptions About Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

Some people experience these symptoms yet do not have peritoneal mesothelioma. Therefore, experiencing these symptoms does not equal having this cancer. These symptoms could be related to many other conditions.

We encourage you not to make any assumptions about your health. If you are having any new or worsening symptoms, talk with your doctor to get a full medical evaluation and undergo tests to determine the true cause of your symptoms.

What to Do if You Have Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms


If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor and schedule a visit. The only way to diagnose peritoneal mesothelioma or learn if you have another condition is to undergo imaging tests and possibly a biopsy.

Many people do not respond immediately to their symptoms, largely due to how nonspecific they are and how often they are signs of a noncancerous condition. In one study, the average time to diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma from the initial symptoms was 4-6 months.

Some of the imaging tests you’ll undergo include an X-ray or CT scan. If there’s evidence of tumors, then you may have a biopsy to remove samples of tissue from your peritoneum. This will usually be done by an oncologist or surgeon, and your doctor can refer you to one. The surgery to obtain the biopsy used for a peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis is either a laparotomy or laparoscopy.

If you receive a diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma, then it is crucial to find a mesothelioma specialist. This cancer is rare – there are fewer than 1,000 cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year – and most local doctors and oncologists don’t have the experience and knowledge to effectively treat this disease.

There are peritoneal mesothelioma specialists at some of the top cancer centers in the United States. These specialists will provide a second opinion on your diagnosis, stage and treatment options, including a potentially life-saving operation called cytoreduction with HIPEC.

Your primary doctor or local oncologist can refer you to a mesothelioma specialist nearby, or you can use the Mesothelioma Guide doctor database to find one at a top cancer hospital. We also recommend you contact our lead patient advocate and registered nurse, Karen Ritter, via email at karen@mesotheliomaguide.com.

How Symptoms Can Help With Staging Peritoneal Mesothelioma

The symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma don’t happen all at once. When the original tumors form, people may experience a few mild symptoms. As the tumors grow and multiply, more symptoms usually occur – and there may be an increase in the level of discomfort.

The severity of the symptoms can be indicative of your peritoneal mesothelioma stage. For instance, if you’re experiencing extreme discomfort from peritoneal effusions (ascites), or there is severe peritoneal thickening on imaging scans, then you may have an advanced stage of peritoneal mesothelioma.

13 Sections of the Abdominal Cavity

abdominal cavity separated into 13 regions, on the top sections 1-8 and on the bottom section 9-12
abdominal cavity separated into 13 regions, on the left sections 1-8 and on the right section 9-12

Peritoneal mesothelioma is staged through the Peritoneal Cancer Index (PCI). The abdominal cavity is separated into 13 regions, and each region receives a score of 0-3 based on the volume of peritoneal mesothelioma tumors. The more disease in a region, the higher the score between 0 and 3. The scores from all 13 regions are tallied to provide a PCI score and help stage peritoneal mesothelioma.

Frequently Asked Questions About Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

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What Are the Main Symptoms of Peritoneal Mesothelioma?

The most common peritoneal mesothelioma symptoms are abdominal pain, fluid buildup in the abdomen (ascites), cramps, fever, nausea, constipation, weight loss, and decreased appetite. Some of these symptoms may be related to other conditions.

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What Should You Do if You Experience Malignant Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms?

If you experience any of the symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma, then you should speak with your doctor and possibly undergo tests. These tests include imaging scans, such as an X-ray or CT scan. If there are signs of peritoneal tumors on the scans, then you may have a biopsy. A biopsy is the only way to diagnose your symptoms as peritoneal mesothelioma.

Sources & Author

  1. Peritoneal Mesothelioma. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/23973-peritoneal-mesothelioma. Accessed: 03/14/2023.
  2. 6 things to know about peritoneal mesothelioma. University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Retrieved from: https://www.mdanderson.org/cancerwise/what-is-peritoneal-mesothelioma-diagnosis-and-treatment.h00-159464001.html. Accessed: 03/14/2023.
  3. Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma: a review. Annals of Translational Medicine. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5497105/. Accessed: 03/16/2023.
Devin Golden

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is a content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.