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Treatment of peritoneal mesothelioma

There is no established staging system for peritoneal mesothelioma. The types of treatments given are based on the unique needs of the person with cancer.

Peritoneal mesothelioma is a locally aggressive disease that is difficult to treat. The goal of most treatments is to control the disease for as long as possible, manage symptoms and improve the person’s quality of life.


Surgery is not usually possible for peritoneal mesothelioma because there are often tumours throughout the entire abdomen. However, some people with early, localized peritoneal mesothelioma may be offered surgery to remove the entire tumour by removing the lining of the abdomen (peritonectomy).

Many people have advanced peritoneal mesothelioma when they are diagnosed. Surgery may be used to remove as much of the tumour as possible to help relieve symptoms. This type of surgery is called debulking (cytoreductive) surgery. It may be an option for people who are well enough to tolerate surgery.


Chemotherapy may be an option for people with advanced peritoneal mesothelioma. Chemotherapy may be given into a vein (intravenously) or into the abdomen (intraperitoneal chemotherapy). Intraperitoneal chemotherapy is often the most common way chemotherapy is given to treat peritoneal mesothelioma.

People having debulking (cytoreductive) surgery for peritoneal mesothelioma may have intraperitoneal chemotherapy at the same time as surgery (hyperthermic intraoperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy or HIIC) or soon after surgery.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy does not always work well for mesothelioma. It is not a main treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma, but is sometimes used to relieve symptoms caused by advanced peritoneal mesothelioma (palliative radiation therapy).

Supportive care

Peritoneal mesothelioma is often quite advanced when it is diagnosed. Some people with very advanced peritoneal mesothelioma may be too ill to have cancer treatments such as intensive surgery or chemotherapy. They may be offered supportive care (palliative care) treatments to relieve symptoms, such as pain, weight loss and fluid buildup in the abdomen (ascites).

Recurrent peritoneal mesothelioma

If peritoneal mesothelioma comes back (recurs) after it has been treated, treatment options depend on:

  • the location of the cancer
  • the treatments that have already been used
  • the person’s overall health

Treatment options similar to unresectable peritoneal mesothelioma may be used for recurrent mesothelioma. Chemotherapy may be used to try to shrink or slow the growth of the cancer and relieve symptoms. Radiation therapy and palliative procedures may be used to relieve symptoms.

Clinical trials

People with mesothelioma may be offered the opportunity to participate in clinical trials. For more information, go to clinical trials.


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