Malignant Ascites of the intraperitoneal

Malignant Ascites: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

Malignant ascites, also known as malignant peritoneal effusion, is an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen caused by the spread of cancer cells to the peritoneum and lymphatic system. It is most commonly seen in advanced stages of cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, ovaries, uterus, stomach, pancreas and breast. It can also occur in patients with lymphoma, leukemia and other malignancies.

In most cases, the exact cause of malignant ascites is unknown, although certain factors have been identified that increase the risk of developing it. These factors include advanced stage cancer, history of chemotherapy or radiation therapy, elevated tumor markers, increased abdominal pressure, and certain mutations in genes associated with cancer.

The main clinical symptom associated with malignant ascites is shortness of breath due to accumulation of fluid in the lungs. Other symptoms may include abdominal distension, anorexia, weight loss, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, constipation and abdominal pain.


Malignant ascites is usually identified via physical examination with symptoms that include abdominal palpation and imaging tests, such as an abdominal CT scan or ultrasound. Other tests that may be used to diagnose malignant ascites may include a cytological examination of the fluid or a laparoscopy.


The primary goal of treatment for malignant ascites is to control the underlying cause, usually the cancer. Treatment options may include:

  • Surgery: Surgery may be used to remove the cancerous tissue. This may include partial or complete removal of the affected organs.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy may be used to shrink the tumor and help control the cancer.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy may be used to target and destroy the cancer cells.
  • Intraperitoneal chemotherapy: Intraperitoneal chemotherapy may be used to deliver chemotherapy directly to the site of the cancer.
  • Drainage/paracentesis: This procedure involves draining fluid from the abdomen to relieve symptoms and reduce the amount of fluid in the abdomen.

In some cases, nutritional and medical management can be used to improve the quality of life of the patient. This may include dietary modifications, pain management, and fluid and electrolyte balance.