Peritoneal cancer ​refers to cancers involving the peritoneum (a thin membrane that lines the abdominal and pelvic cavities) and some of the abdominal organs. These include:

  • Spleen
  • Large and small intestines
  • Stomach
  • Liver
  • Pelvic organs

Causes of Peritoneal Cancer

Tumours spreading to the peritoneum can be caused by:

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Carcinoma of the appedix or PMP, which is a group of peritoneal tumours frequently associated with an appendiceal tumour
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Other cacers that start from organs within the abdominal cavity
  • Gallbladder cancer 

Tunours arising from the peritoneum may be caused by:

  • Maligant mesothelioma
  • Primary peritonral cancer

Symptoms of Peritoneal Cancer

Although patients with peritoneal cancer may not exhibit any symptoms, some have been known to:

  • Have abdominal pain, abdominal swelling or bloating
  • Have a chage in bowel habits such as recurrent diarrhoea or constipation
  • Bleeding when passing motion
  • Masses in the abdomen
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Vomiting

Treatment of Peritoneal Cancer

The 3-step treatment of peritoneal cancer includes:

  • CRS (Cytoreductive Surgery)
  • Peritonectomy
  • HIPEC (Hypothermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy) 

CRS (Cytoreductive Surgery) aims to remove all visible tumours in the abdomen. Intra-abdominal organs that are affected by tumours and ca be safely removed will be resected to ensure that no disease remains.

Next, the removal of the peritoneum (also known as a Peritonectomy) will be performed. 

Upon completion of the surgical procedures, HIPEC (Hypothermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy) is administered. Here, a chemotherpay drug is heated to a temperature of 42 degrees celcius and intriduced directly into the abdomial cavity to eliminate microscopic tumours that are invisible to the eyes.

The entire 3-step procedure can take between 4 to 12 hours or longer, depending on the amount of cancer is prevalent within the peritoneal cavity.

After surgery, a patient will be nursed in an intensive care or high-dependency unit, until the patient's condition stabilises where he or she will be transferred to the general ward. Hospitalisation stay is estimated to be between 10 to 14 days.

Post-surgery care

About 1 to 2 weeks after surgery, the patient will be reviewed by a team of specialists. Following this, a check-up will take place at least once every 3 months, thereafter once a year. The frequency of these visits is likely to decrease as the patient's condition improves.

For more information about peritoneal cancer, please visit the National Cancer Centre Singapore at