Before we start discussing gallbladder cancer, let us educate ourselves on the gallbladder and its functions. The gall bladder is a small pear-shaped organ situated on the right side of your abdomen, below your liver. It stores bile, which is a digestive fluid that is secreted by the liver. However, this might tend to be endangered by a few risks.
Gall bladder cancer is a very rare type of cancer that starts in the gall bladder. When this cancer is diagnosed early, there is a very good chance of curing it by providing treatment to it.
Gallbladder cancer diagnosis
Sadly, most of the time, gallbladder cancer is not detected until it is too late. The diagnosis can be difficult since gallbladder cancer doesn’t show any specific symptoms. Also, because of the discrete nature of the organ, it makes it easy for gallbladder cancer to spread without getting detected.
Causes of gallbladder cancer
Obesity: Being overweight puts you at a higher risk for gallbladder cancer, and also, you are more prone to develop gallstones.
Family history: Although the reason is not quite known, gallbladder cancer is seen more in people whose family has a history of the disease.
Chemical exposure: A few studies indicate that exposure to certain chemicals, especially those from the rubber and textile industry, puts you at risk of gallbladder cancer. However, this is not confirmed.
Gallstones: This is one of the most prominent risk factors of gallbladder cancer.
Also Read: Know more About Gall Stones!
In case your liver isn’t working the way it’s supposed to, it leads to the formation of hard fragments, called gallstones. These gallstones stay until they’re removed. In case they start to hurt, your doctor might have to remove your gallbladder. The surgery to remove these gallstones is called gallstone surgery. Around eighty per cent of the people with gallstones will require gallstone surgery.
Types of gallstone surgery*
Open surgery: Here, the surgeon will make a five to seven inch cut on your stomach to take out the gallbladder.
Laparoscopic cholecystectomy: Here, the surgeon makes four small cuts on your belly, through which a thin and flexible tube with a light and camera is inserted. Then, special tools are used to remove the gallbladder.
Both these surgeries will be performed after an anaesthetic is injected. This means you will be asleep during the entire procedure and will feel no pain at all.
Problems Associated with the Gallbladder
- Porcelain Gallbladder: Here, the walls of the gallbladder are covered with calcium deposits. However, only a few studies suggest that this might be a risk factor for gallbladder cancer.
- Choledochal Cysts: The bile duct starts from the gallbladder, continues to the liver and goes into the small intestine. Sometimes, bile-filled cysts may form along this duct. When this happens, there are chances that these cysts can develop pre-cancerous cells, which might contribute to the risk of developing gallbladder cancer.
- Gallbladder Polyps: Gallbladder polyps are unusual growths that may develop on the gallbladder. Large polyps put you at greater risk of developing cancer and doctors normally suggest getting the gallbladder removed when these are found.
Symptoms of gallbladder cancer
- A lot of people with gallbladder cancer experience belly pain, usually in the right side of your upper belly.
- Sometimes, people also experience vomiting.
- In case the bile duct is blocked because of cancer, bilirubin accumulates in the bile and gets stored in various parts of the body. This causes jaundice.
- If the gallbladder is swollen, there will be lumps seen on your belly.
- Dark urine
- Itchy skin
So, if you’re exposed to such a lifestyle that might put you at a risk for gallbladder cancer, you need to watch out for the symptoms. It’s always better to visit your doctor in times of doubt.