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Can J Surg. 2009 Feb;52(1):59-64.

Surgical biology for the clinician: peritoneal mesothelioma: current understanding and management.

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University of New South Wales, Department of Surgery, St. George Hospital, Kogarah, New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.


Mesothelioma is an asbestos-related tumour. Mesothelioma in the thorax occurs on the pleura and is known as pleural mesothelioma. It is the more common form of mesothelioma, accounting for 70% of cases. The other form occurs in the abdomen. It accounts for much of the remaining 30% and is known as peritoneal mesothelioma. Early diagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma is often difficult because the early symptoms are often overlooked as being a benign ailment of the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, diagnosis often occurs at an advanced stage when disease is widespread throughout the peritoneal cavity. Treatment approaches have evolved in the last decade from systemic chemotherapy and palliative surgery to aggressive cytoreductive surgery and perioperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy. This has led to a marked increase in survival among patients who were once classified as "preterminal." We update on the current understanding of peritoneal mesothelioma from a clinical perspective in hope that greater clinician awareness will promote best practice management of this condition.

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