Although there is no definitive way to prevent peritoneal cancer, certain healthy lifestyle choices may lower your risk of getting, such as:
- Quitting or avoiding smoking
- Consuming a healthy diet rich in whole foods (including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and low in saturated fats
- Staying physically active
- Maintaining a healthy weight
These measures help maintain overall health and, thus, must be followed even if you’re not focusing on reducing cancer risk factors. Nevertheless, the risk of peritoneal cancer cannot be eliminated because its specific causes are not known.
Developing peritoneal cancer largely depends on several unmodifiable or unchangeable risk factors, such as:
- The presence of certain genetic mutations called breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2) mutations
- Family history of the peritoneal, fallopian tube, or ovarian cancer
- Being tall
Receiving hormone replacement therapy after menopause may increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Alcohol, talc, infertility treatment, and use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin have been suggested to increase the risk of peritoneal, ovarian, and fallopian tube cancer. There is, however, a lack of sufficient scientific evidence in this regard.
Research suggests that certain factors may lower the risk of peritoneal, ovarian, and fallopian tube cancers. These protective factors include giving birth, breastfeeding, and taking oral contraceptives.
What is peritoneal cancer?
Peritoneal cancer (also called peritoneal carcinoma) is a rare type of cancer involving the peritoneum. The peritoneum is a thin, delicate sheet-like structure or membrane that lines the inside of the abdomen and provides support to the abdominal organs. It is made up of a type of cell called epithelial cells, which produce a watery fluid. The fluid acts as a lubricant preventing friction between various organs in the abdomen.
Peritoneal cancer has two main types depending on whether cancer originated from the peritoneum (primary peritoneal cancer) or spread to the peritoneum from some other site in the body (secondary peritoneal cancer).
- Primary peritoneal cancer is generally seen in women and arises when cells of the peritoneum start to grow and multiply uncontrollably.
- Secondary peritoneal cancer may occur due to the spread of cancerous cells (metastasis) from other sites, such as ovaries, fallopian tubes, colon, rectum, stomach, and urinary bladder. This type of cancer may be seen in both men and women.
What are the symptoms of peritoneal cancer?
Peritoneal cancer often does not cause any signs and symptoms in its early stages. The initial symptoms when present are generally vague and include abdominal distension, abdominal fullness after eating, and generalized abdominal pain.
Other symptoms of peritoneal cancer include:
- Abdominal cramps, pressure, or bloating
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Reduced appetite
- Frequent urination
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Pallor (pale appearance)
- Poor stamina or fatigue
- Vaginal discharge
As cancer progresses there may be other symptoms, such as a palpable abdominal mass, collection of fluid in the abdomen (ascites), bleeding abnormalities, difficulty in swallowing, and shortness of breath.
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Bleibel W. Peritoneal Cancer. Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/281107-overview
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