Six difficult to spot symptoms of a rare cancer

Cancer symptoms: Top 14 early signs to look out for

Cancer is a disease that occurs when abnormal cells divide in an uncontrolled way, sometimes spreading into other tissues.

Symptoms of the disease will depend on when the cancer is, with lung cancer often causing a persistent cough and bowel cancer typically leading to changes when you go to the toilet.

However, in some cases the disease may present with no symptoms at all or the signs could be “difficult to spot”.

This is the case when it comes to peritoneal cancer.

Peritoneal cancer is a cancer that starts in the peritoneum – a thin layer of tissue lining the inside of the abdomen.

The main role of the peritoneum is to cover the organs within the abdomen, such as the bowel and the liver, acting as a barrier to infection.

It also produces a fluid allowing the organs to move inside your tummy.

There are a number of health issues that can affect the peritoneum, including cancer – although this is “rare”.

The Cleveland Clinic explains: “Primary peritoneal cancer is very rare.

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“Providers diagnose fewer than seven in one million cases each year.

“But those numbers may be somewhat misleading.

“Researchers estimate that up to 15 percent of women diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer may actually have peritoneal cancer.”

Unfortunately symptoms of peritoneal cancer can be easily mistaken for other problems.

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“Symptoms for primary peritoneal cancer can be very unclear and difficult to spot,” Cancer Research UK says.

“Many of the symptoms are more likely to be caused by other medical conditions.”

However, there are six main signs to be aware of.

These are:

  • A swollen tummy (abdomen)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation or diarrhoea
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Feeling bloated
  • Loss of appetite.

The disease is far more common in women than in men.

Cancer Research UK adds: “Primary peritoneal cancer [meaning it starts in the peritoneum] mainly affects women. It’s very rare in men.

“Most people are over the age of 60 when they are diagnosed.

“There are no exact numbers for how many people get it in the UK.

“American research suggests that around 10 out of 100 (around 10 percent) of all women with ovarian, fallopian and peritoneal serous cancers have primary peritoneal cancer.”

If you experience any unexplained symptoms listed above you should speak to your GP.

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