The peritoneum (from the Greek peri-around + tonos-stretching) is a thin membrane that forms the lining of the abdomen. It covers all of the organs within the abdomen and also acts a conduit for blood, lymphatic vessels and nerves. It rhymes with merit-oh-knee-um.
This lining produces a lubricating fluid so the abdominal organs can slide around easily and prevent them from sticking together. If there is cancer in the peritoneum, there can also be ascites, which is an abnormal buildup of this fluid that causes bloating.
Primary Peritoneal Cancer is a rare cancer that typically affects women. The cause is unknown. Since the cells of the peritoneum are very similar to the cells found on the surface (epithelium) of the ovary, it is often treated like ovarian cancer.
Only about 10 percent of ovarian and peritoneal cancers are genetically linked.
Carriers of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation or one of the genes that causes HNPCC, also known as Lynch Syndrome, have a higher risk of PPC.
National Cancer Institute, US National Institutes of Health.www.cancer.gov
UCSF Medical Center, Gynecological Surgical Oncology.http://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/peritoneal_cancer/
Gynecologic Cancer Foundation: Women's Cancer Network.http://www.wcn.org/articles/types_of_cancer/peritoneal/overview/