ZocdocAnswersWhat causes primary peritoneal cancer?

Question

What causes primary peritoneal cancer?

Where does it come from? Can it happen to anyone?

Answer

Primary peritoneal cancer is a very rare and very aggressive malignancy of the cells lining the abdominal cavity (the so-called peritoneum). Understanding the causes of this disease is still an active area of investigation since not much is known about this cancer's origins. In fact, evidence from pathologic analysis of several different types of serous tumors (a specific appearance of tumor cells that could come from the ovaries, the uterus, the Fallopian tubes, the cervix, or the peritoneum) suggest that it is possible that these cancers are all the same disease, simply manifesting themselves in different parts of the body. Overall, we do know that women carrying the BRCA1/2 gene (a genetic variant associated with familial breast and ovarian cancers) are more likely to develop primary peritoneal carcinoma. These women can still develop the disease even after having their ovaries removed. In addition, several other genes associated with other types of cancers have also been discovered to be functioning abnormally in primary peritoneal cancer. It seems likely that this cancer is driven by the same type of molecular signals that cause other cancers. More research is needed to identify those individuals at particular risk for this disease so they can be screened more effectively. You should discuss peritoneal cancer with your physician. He or she can give you more information or direct you to additional resources.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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