The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ. It stores bile. The gallbladder is located under the liver and above the pancreas and duodenum. The liver makes bile and transports it to the gallbladder through a tube called the common hepatic duct and cystic duct. The gallbladder releases bile through a tube called the common bile duct. This tube connects the liver, gallbladder, and the first part of the small intestine. Bile is released from the gallbladder when the food is broken down in the stomach and small intestine.
There are four main layers in the anatomical structure of the gallbladder. They include the inner mucosal layer, middle muscle layer, connective tissue layer, and the outer serosal layer. In the beginning, gallbladder cancer develops in the inner layer and then it grows and spreads to the outer layers. Learn more about Gallbladder Stones.
The Risk of Developing Gallbladder Cancer
Compared to men women are at increased risk of developing gallbladder cancer. The risk increases with age, ethnicity, and geographical region where the person is living.
Gallbladder cancer symptoms
- Lumps in the abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the upper abdomen
- Yellow in the whites of the eyes and skin (jaundice)
The above signs and symptoms may also be due to other gastrointestinal conditions. Therefore, it is better to consult a gastroenterologist if you have any of the above signs and symptoms.
Gallbladder Cancer Diagnosis
Gallbladder cancer is difficult to detect (find) and diagnose early.
In the early stages, gallbladder cancer is difficult to detect and diagnose as there are no prominent signs and symptoms. Symptoms if present may mimic the signs and symptoms of other common health conditions. Therefore, in most cases, symptoms often go unnoticed. Another reason for cancer going undetected is the position of the gallbladder behind the liver. Cancer is most often detected after surgical removal of the gallbladder for other reasons.
Gallbladder Cancer Staging
Surgical gastroenterologists try to find out the area in which cancer has spread including the surrounding areas as well. The process involved here is known as staging. Doctors, therefore, order tests and procedures to detect, diagnose and stage gallbladder cancer. The tests involve physical examination, blood tests, abdominal ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, liver function tests, endoscopic ultrasound, ERCP, laparoscopy, and biopsy.
The chances of recovery (prognosis) of the disease depend on whether the cancer has been removed completely by surgery; the stage of cancer and the type of gallbladder cancer.
Treatment depends on the stage, type and age, and general health of the patient.
What are the treatment options for gallbladder cancer?
Gallbladder Cancer Treatment: The standard treatment for gallbladder cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Robust treatment approaches include targeted therapy and immunotherapies.
Gallbladder removal surgery or cholecystectomy is the surgical removal of the gallbladder and also some of the surrounding cancerous cells and tissues around cancer. Expert surgical gastroenterologists who specialize in cancer surgeries remove nearby lymph nodes as well. Laparoscopic surgeons use a laparoscope attached to a camera to guide the surgery. They use other sophisticated surgical instruments inserting and guiding them through small incisions to the surgical site and extensively removing cancerous tissues (cytoreductive) surgery.
Early detection of gallbladder cancer ensures prompt treatment.