Peritoneal mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that can be challenging to diagnose. Even in its later stages, misdiagnosis of peritoneal mesothelioma is a common occurrence that can have significant impacts on a person’s health and emotional wellbeing.

What Is a Peritoneal Mesothelioma Misdiagnosis?

A peritoneal mesothelioma misdiagnosis occurs when one of two things happens:

  1. A patient with peritoneal mesothelioma is incorrectly diagnosed with something else
  2. A patient without peritoneal mesothelioma is diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma

In both cases, the results can be devastating. Peritoneal mesothelioma requires a very specific course of treatment for patients to receive the best possible chance of survival. Similarly, many diseases that are commonly mistaken for peritoneal mesothelioma have different treatment protocols.

Treating patients for the wrong disease or illness prevents those patients from getting potentially life-extending treatment.

This can be particularly devastating for younger peritoneal mesothelioma patients, as research suggests that peritoneal mesothelioma in women under the age of 50 is more treatable than other forms of mesothelioma.

Factors in a Peritoneal Mesothelioma Misdiagnosis

Peritoneal mesothelioma can be misdiagnosed for many reasons, including its tendency to impact demographics that are inconsistent with pleural mesothelioma (lung lining), the more common mesothelioma location.

Pleural mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure and the vast majority of cases involve older males. By contrast, 42% of peritoneal mesothelioma cases occur in women, typically affecting them at a younger age.

Further, peritoneal mesothelioma is commonly caused by asbestos exposure, but it’s potentially not the only cause. One study suggests that less than half of peritoneal mesothelioma cases are due to heavy asbestos exposure, which is further supported by the lower rates of peritoneal mesothelioma—despite a drastic rise in pleural mesothelioma during the asbestos heyday.

Even when asbestos is the cause, women are less likely to have worked directly with asbestos, making it harder for doctors to make a clear connection between their symptoms and a typically asbestos-caused disease like peritoneal mesothelioma.

If that’s enough to confuse doctors, peritoneal mesothelioma is known to metastasize (spread) in other organs or parts of the body, before infecting the abdomen’s lining. In many cases, doctors focus on a more noticeable originating tumor, and unfortunately, miss the peritoneal mesothelioma until it’s advanced.

Misdiagnosing Peritoneal Mesothelioma Symptoms

Peritoneal mesothelioma doesn’t have one or two obvious symptoms. Instead, peritoneal mesothelioma shares symptoms with many other illnesses, making it easy for medical professionals to mistake peritoneal mesothelioma for a more common or familiar illness.

Common symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Bowel movement routine changes
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Always feeling full
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Anemia

These symptoms can easily be mistaken for non-cancerous and statistically more common diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Likewise, it’s possible for medical professionals to mistake one of the more familiar diseases for peritoneal mesothelioma.

Misdiagnosing Peritoneal Mesothelioma for Other Cancers

Even experienced doctors can mistakenly diagnose peritoneal mesothelioma as another type of cancer, or diagnose another type of cancer as peritoneal mesothelioma. There are medical records of this mix-up occurring with other abdominal cancers, including sarcomas, as well as benign peritoneal tumors that aren’t cancerous.

Recent research suggests peritoneal mesothelioma can start as a different cancer entirely, mutating into its new form during metastasis. To further complicate matters, the peritoneal mesothelioma cells are sometimes very different from those of the original tumor.

For example, peritoneal mesothelioma can be easily misdiagnosed as ovarian cancer, because of metastasis and the female demographic that’s susceptible to peritoneal mesothelioma. This common condition can also be mixed up with malignant ovarian mesothelioma, a more recently discovered form of mesothelioma that truly originates in an ovary.

Second Opinions From Mesothelioma Specialists

If you’ve been diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma or you suspect a peritoneal mesothelioma misdiagnosis, it’s important to get a second opinion from an experienced mesothelioma specialist. It’s possible that a serious misdiagnosis has occurred.

Specialists are highly experienced in diagnosing mesothelioma and are well aware of the diseases it can commonly be mistaken for. By working with a mesothelioma specialist, you can receive a proper diagnosis and maximize your chance of success in fighting the disease.

To learn more about your condition, contact our Justice Support Team today at (888) 360-4215.

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Last modified: January 29, 2019