By Rebecca Buxton, a specialist asbestos-related disease solicitor at Irwin Mitchell

Every year, Rare Disease Day is observed to raise awareness among the public and decision makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives. In 2022, the 15th edition falls on Monday, 28 February.

Rare Disease Day is patient-led but everyone can take part to raise awareness and take action for this vulnerable population. The aim is to work towards equity in social opportunity, healthcare and access to diagnosis and therapies for those living with rare diseases.

With this in mind lawyers at Irwin Mitchell are shining the spotlight on peritoneal mesothelioma this Rare Disease Day.

What is peritoneal mesothelioma?

The peritoneum (the lining of the abdomen) helps to protect the contents of the abdomen and keep them in place. Peritoneal mesothelioma is a cancer within this peritoneal lining.

Like pleural mesothelioma, which occurs in the lining of the ribcage, peritoneal mesothelioma can be caused by exposure to asbestos.

Mesothelioma itself is a relatively rare disease with around 2,700 cases in the UK each year. This accounts for less than one per cent of all cancer cases.

Peritoneal mesothelioma is thought to represent no more than seven to 10 per cent of all mesotheliomas.

Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma

Initial symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma may be mild and vague. These could include abdominal pain or swelling, constipation or diarrhoea, nausea, weight loss, night sweats or fatigue.

Because the symptoms mimic those of many other conditions and the history of asbestos exposure may have been many years previously there is often a delay before peritoneal mesothelioma is suspected. Occasionally patients could have symptoms for many months before getting answers.

Treatment for peritoneal mesothelioma

Sadly there is no cure for peritoneal mesothelioma but treatments may be available to extend and improve quality of life. The choice of treatment depends on various factors including age, general fitness, other illnesses and how far advanced the cancer is.

Treatment options might include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Surgery
  • Surveillance; and
  • Medication.

Support is available

A diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma can be frightening for a patient and their loved ones, particularly as this is such a rare disease. Patients are unlikely to know anyone who has suffered with the disease and it may be hard to know where to turn for support.

Information and advice about the condition, symptoms and treatments can be found via Mesothelioma UK which can also be contacted on 0800 169 2409.

If you or a loved one has been unlucky enough to be diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, our solicitors can help. Our expert team has over 30 years’ experience and has worked on landmark asbestos claims, including in the Supreme Court.

Find out more our expertise in supporting people and families affected by mesothelioma and other diseases at our dedicated asbestos-related claims section.