What Are Common Symptoms of Peritoneal Cancer?

Symptoms commonly associated with peritoneal cancer include abdominal discomfort, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, bleeding from the rectum, unusual vaginal bleeding, unexplained gain or loss of weight, shortness of breath and feelings of fullness, states WebMD. Because the symptoms of peritoneal cancer are very vague in the early stages, the condition may be difficult to diagnose, and by the time it is detected, may have progressed.

Peritoneal cancer affects a layer of tissue called the peritoneum, which is composed of epithelial cells and covers the bladder, rectum and uterus, and also lines the abdomen. Peritoneal cancer is similar to ovarian cancer in appearance and behavior, as the ovaries' surface is also composed of epithelial cells. Women are more prone to developing this cancer than are men. Elderly people are also at higher risk for peritoneal cancer.

Treatments for peritoneal cancer vary depending on where the cancer is and how large it is, the grade and stage, and the age and health of the patient. The available treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and palliative care. If surgery is performed, the doctor will take out any tumors or signs of the cancer. If necessary, the surgeon will sometimes remove other organs and tissues. Chemotherapy is usually done as an outpatient procedure consisting of a series of injections. With intraperitoneal chemotherapy, the chemotherapy drugs are received through a catheter inserted during surgery.

Palliative care can help with cancer that is in the advanced stages. Relief from pain and other symptoms can be provided with supportive care.