Epidemiology of peritoneal mesothelioma: a review

Annals of Oncology. 2006 Oct 9; [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

P. Boffetta 1 *

1 International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France

* To whom correspondence should be addressed: P. Boffetta, E-mail: boffetta@iarc.fr


The epidemiology of peritoneal mesothelioma is complicated by possible geographic and temporal variations in diagnostic practices. The incidence rates in industrialized countries range between 0.5 and three cases per million in men and between 0.2 and two cases per million in women. Exposure to asbestos is the main known cause of peritoneal mesothelioma. Results on peritoneal mesothelioma have been reported for 34 cohorts exposed to asbestos, among which a strong correlation was present between the percentages of deaths from pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma (correlation coefficient 0.8, P < 0.0001). Studies of workers exposed only or predominantly to chrysotile asbestos resulted in a lower proportion of total deaths from peritoneal mesothelioma than studies of workers exposed to amphibole or mixed type of asbestos. Cases of peritoneal mesothelioma have also been reported following exposure to erionite and Thorotrast, providing further evidence of common etiological factors with the pleural form of the disease. The role of other suspected risk factors, such as simian virus 40 infection and genetic predisposition, is unclear at present. Control of asbestos exposure remains the main approach to prevent peritoneal mesothelioma.

Keywords: asbestos; epidemiology; peritoneal mesothelioma; thorotrast.