Diffuse malignant peritoneal mesothelioma--an update on treatment

Cancer Treat Rev. 2012 Oct;38(6):605-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2011.10.006. Epub 2011 Nov 21.


Mesotheliomas are aggressive and lethal neoplasms arising from mesothelial cells lining the pleura, peritoneum, tunica vaginalis testis and pericardium. Malignant peritoneal mesothelioma accounts for about 30% of all mesotheliomas. Asbestos is the main known cause of the disease. Presenting symptoms in these patients include: ascites, abdominal pain, asthenia, weight loss, anorexia, abdominal mass, fever, diarrhea and vomiting. Electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, computed tomography scan, echotomography, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography and laparoscopy are used in diagnosis and follow-up. Chemotherapy alone is considered as a palliative treatment for these patients who are not eligible for radical surgery. The most promising non-surgical approach today in the management of peritoneal mesothelioma is the use of the combination chemotherapy regime of an antifolate (pemetrexed and raltitrexed) and a platinum based (cisplatin) agent with a median survival of about 12-14 months. Due to peritoneal confinement of malignant mesothelioma and low occurrence of metastasis, a locoregional approach consisting of cytoreductive surgery and perioperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy has been introduced as a curative treatment option over the last decade with an overall 5-year survival rate of 29-63%. In this locoregional approach, surgery can separate the adhesions and remove the bulky tumor, leaving microscopic residual tumors much more susceptible to the killing effect of chemotherapeutic drugs. Here in St. George hospital, cytoreductive surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (using cisplatin and doxorubicin) resulted in significant survival advantage. This article describes how the prognosis of the disease has changed over the last decade.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Mesothelioma / diagnosis
  • Mesothelioma / mortality
  • Mesothelioma / therapy*
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Prognosis