Gallbladder Cancer: The Basics
The gallbladder is an organ that stores bile. Bile is a green colored liquid made by the liver that helps the body digest fats. Gallbladder cancer is caused by gallbladder cells growing out of control. As the number of cells grow, they form into a tumor.
Gallbladder cancer that has spread from the gallbladder to some other part of the body is called metastatic cancer.
- Having had gallbladder issues in the past like inflammation and gallstones
Signs of Gallbladder Cancer
There are no specific signs of gallbladder cancer. The signs you have can be like the signs of having gallstones.
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Not feeling hungry
- Nausea and upset stomach
- Losing weight
Diagnosis of Gallbladder Cancer
When your healthcare providers think you may have gallbladder cancer, they will do a full exam of your body and ask you questions about your health. They also may order tests like:
Staging Gallbladder Cancer
To guide treatment, gallbladder cancer is "staged." This stage is based on
- Size and location of the tumor
- Whether cancer cells are in the lymph nodes
- Whether cancer cells are in other parts of the body
Stages range from stage I (smallest, most confined tumors) to stage IV (tumors that have spread to other parts of the body, also called metastatic cancer). The stage of gallbladder cancer will guide your treatment plan.
Often, these treatments are used:
- Surgery to remove the whole tumor is the only way to cure gallbladder cancer. It can also be used to remove cancer cells that have spread or to lessen pain.
- Radiation, the use of high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells, can be used after surgery. It can also be used to lessen symptoms being caused by the cancer.
- Chemotherapy, the use of medications to kill cancer cells that have gone to others places in the body, can be used with surgery.
This article is a basic guide to gallbladder cancer. You can learn more about your type of gallbladder cancer and treatment by using the links below.