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Gallbladder Cancer - Signs, Causes & Treatment Of It!

Written and reviewed by
MBBS, MS - General Surgery, M.Ch - Surgical Gastroenterology/G.I. Surgery, Fellowship In HPB Surgery and Liver Transplant, PDCC Abdominal Ultrasonography, Hands on course on Microvascular Surgery
Surgical Gastroenterologist, Delhi  •  19 years experience
Gallbladder Cancer - Signs, Causes & Treatment Of It!

The gallbladder is a small organ in the abdomen that stores bile. Bile is necessary to digest fat that people take with food.

Unlike other cancers, Gallbladder cancer is not very common. It is also treatable in the early stages. However, in most cases, Gallbladder Cancer is detected in late stages. At these stages, the chance of a recovery is remote. What makes early diagnosis uncommon is the absence of specific signs or symptoms.

However, there are some signs that people need to look out for.

Signs of Gallbladder Cancer

Though there are not many specific symptoms, following signs can indicate a broad range of abnormalities, including some cancers.

  1. Pain in the upper right quadrant of abdomen

  2. Bloating

  3. Fever

  4. Weight loss

  5. A feeling of nausea

  6. Yellowing of the skin and eyes (sign of jaundice)

Many of these symptoms may involve other organs or indicate completely different ailments. This is why people need to see the symptoms in light of other concomitant symptoms and gauge the seriousness of the problems. If a person feels that a particular symptom is not solely a gastrointestinal problem, rush to the doctor immediately.

Causes of Gallbladder Cancer

Causes of Gallbladder Cancer are not entirely clear. However, in most cases, cancer spreads from the glandular cells of the gallbladder. These cells are found in the inner body of the gallbladder. This is also known as Adenocarcinoma. Slowly, it spreads from the inner body to other organs of the body.

Risk Factors

Though the reasons for Gallbladder Cancer are not yet known, certainly there are some factors that exacerbate the risk:

  • Gender

More women than men suffer from Gallbladder Cancer.

  • Age

The risk of Gallbladder Cancer increases with age.

  • History of Gallbladder Stone

It has been observed that most of the Gallbladder Cancer patients have had a history of gallbladder stones. However, this does not mean that Gallbladder Cancer is common in people with a history of gallbladder stone.

Chronic gallbladder infection, gallbladder polyps, etc. can increase the risk of Gallbladder Cancer.

Stages of Gallbladder Cancer

Gallbladder Cancer is categorized into different stages in accordance with its spread:

  • Stage I

If cancer is confined within the glandular cells of gallbladder, it is put in this stage.

  • Stage II

If cancer has grown out of the inner layers and has invaded the outer layer of the organ, it is put in the second stage.

  • Stage III

If cancer has grown to such an extent as to invade nearby organs like liver, stomach, small intestine, etc., Gallbladder Cancer is put in this stage.

  • Stage IV

The last stage of Gallbladder Cancer is characterized by large tumors, taking into their fold multiple organs in the vicinity. Tumors may also spread to distant parts of the body.

Treatments of the Gallbladder Cancer

The treatments depend a lot on the stage of cancer and overall health. The primary goal is to remove the diseased gallbladder. It may also be possible to resect part of the liver and bile duct along with the gallbladder.

However, if that is not possible, doctors may need to resort to other therapies to prevent the disease from spreading. This may involve Radiation Therapy or Chemotherapy or a combination of both.

There are many treatments available for Gallbladder Cancer depending upon the severity of the cancer. This is why it is important to consult a doctor before opting for any treatment.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!
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