The peritoneum is a membrane that covers the inner lining of the abdominal cavity and the organs lying in there. It helps to support these organs and contains the blood vessels and nerves that supply them. The space in the abdominal cavity covered by the peritoneum is known as the peritoneal cavity (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Peritoneal Cavity
Metastasis occurs when cancer spreads from its original site to other parts of the body. Peritoneal metastases refer to cancer that has spread to the peritoneum from other organs. When cancer spreads from other organs, it is considered advanced and denote Stage IV disease in most cases.
Cancers that develop from the peritoneum itself, such as primary peritoneal cancer or peritoneal mesothelioma, are very rare.
Patients who suffer from cancers mainly of abdominal origins such as gastric (stomach), ovarian, colorectal, appendix and pancreas cancers are at risk of developing peritoneal metastases. Less commonly, other cancers can also spread to the peritoneum.
Complications related to peritoneal metastases:
Some common symptoms include:
Peritoneal metastases develop as cancer spreads. Presently, besides controlling the original cancer, there is little more that can be done to prevent peritoneal metastases. Patients who experience the symptoms mentioned above should seek medical assistance for a thorough evaluation.
The diagnosis of peritoneal cancer can be difficult. Imaging (such as CT or MRI scans), needle drainage of ascitic fluid for analysis, keyhole surgery, or a combination of these may be required to confirm the diagnosis of peritoneal metastases.
Peritoneal metastasis is difficult to treat and is best managed by a multi-disciplinary team that includes surgeons and medical oncologists.
At NCIS, patients with peritoneal metastases (peritoneal cancer) will be managed by a multidisciplinary team. This team includes oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, dieticians and other allied health workers. Patients are discussed at a multidisciplinary meeting to ensure that the best treatment options are offered to patients. Multiple ongoing research initiatives and trials ongoing at NCIS allow our patients access to cutting-edge treatments.