The clinical data, diagnostic procedures and survival are reported in 19 cases diagnosed as malignant peritoneal mesothelioma. All patients were men and 74% had an occupational exposure to asbestos, whereas in 26% no information about asbestos exposure was available. The median interval between asbestos exposure and the diagnosis appeared to be 44.7 years (range 18–49 years). The most common presenting symptoms were abdominal pain, weight loss and dysphagia. Most patients presented with a large amount of ascites. In the majority of patients no therapy except pain relief was given and the median survival from the time of diagnosis was 6 months (range: 0–29 months). Some patients received surgery or chemotherapy, which however did not prolong survival. Only in 2 patients survival exceeded 1 year, although these patients did not receive therapy. The autopsy findings of some patients showed that there were positive abdominal lymph nodes in 2 of them, while in no case positive thoracic lymph nodes were found. The relative short survival period from the time of the first diagnosis in contrast to malignant pleural mesotheliomas is probably the reason for the absence of distant metastases. In this series only in a minority of patients cytology of the ascites was positive and often a laparotomy had to be done. Since cytologic specimens are often negative, we suggest that in patients suspected of a malignant peritoneal mesothelioma, laparoscopy with directed biopsies is the diagnostic procedure of first choice.

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