What Is Peritoneal Cancer?

Peritoneal cancer develops in the peritoneum, the tissue that lines the inside wall of the abdomen covering the uterus and extending over the bladder and rectum, according to UCSF Medical Center. The peritoneum produces a lubricating fluid that helps organs move smoothly in the abdomen.

Symptoms include abdominal discomfort and pain; nausea; diarrhea; loss of appetite; unexplained weight gain or loss; and abnormal vaginal bleeding. Diagnosing peritoneal cancer involves a thorough physical exam, along with a pelvic exam to find abnormalities in the uterus, vagina, ovaries and fallopian tubes; an ultrasound to look for fluid-filled cysts and tumors; and a CA-125 assay, which is a blood test used to measure the level of the tumor marker often found in high amounts in women with peritoneal cancer, notes UCSF Medical Center.

Treatments include surgeries to remove tumors, the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the uterus; chemotherapy that is sometimes injected into the abdomen using a catheter; and supportive care to reduce symptoms. Peritoneal cancer is rare and often confused with intestinal or stomach cancer, notes WebMD. Peritoneal cancer looks and acts like ovarian cancer, and women with an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer also have an increased risk of developing peritoneal cancer, states UCSF Medical Center.