It produces a jelly-like substance (mucin) that initially builds up in the appendix forming a mucocoele of the appendix. This can then burst out of the appendix spreading cells and mucin around the abdominal (tummy) cavity.
The tumour does not spread through the blood vessels but stays in the abdomen where it increases in size. This build up of mucin gradually compresses the bowel, affecting the body's ability to absorb food properly.
For both women and men, the most common symptom is a slow increase in the size of the waist. However the symptoms can be very non-specific and this can lead to difficulties in diagnosis. PMP is often an unexpected finding during investigations of discomfort or swelling in the abdomen with an Ultrasound or CT Scan. It may also be identified when having other operations such as gynaecological surgery, hernia repairs or appendicectomies.
Patients who are suspected of having PMP should be referred to a national peritoneal tumour centre like The Christie Colorectal and Peritoneal Oncology Centre for advice and treatment. This is because treatment of PMP can involve major surgery to remove involved organs in the abdomen and the tissue lining the abdominal cavity (peritoneum). Once the surgery has been performed, heated chemotherapy is then introduced into the abdomen to kill any tumour cells that cannot be seen. This technique is called Cytoreductive Surgery and Hyperthermic Intra-operative Peritoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC). Over 150 of these procedures are performed each year at The Christie Colorectal and Peritoneal Oncology Centre by six colorectal surgeons. To date we have performed over 700 of these procedures.