GALLBLADDER is a pear-shaped sac or pouch, present beneath the liver on the right side of the abdomen. Main function of the gallbladder is to store bile (produced by liver), which helps in digestion of fats in food.
- The gallbladder squeezes stored bile into the small intestine in response to signals via a system of tubes known as ducts.
- Bile aids fat digestion, although the gallbladder isn't required.
- In an otherwise healthy person, removing the gallbladder usually produces no noticeable difficulties with health or digestion, while there is a slight risk of diarrhoea and fat malabsorption.
When there is an abnormal or uncontrollable growth of cells in the GALLBLADDER, it leads to development of cancer.
SYMPTOMS OF GALLBLADDER CANCER
- Abdominal pain
- Unregulated loss of weight
- Yellowing of skin (jaundice)
- Lumps in abdomen
- Dark color of urine
- Itchy skin
- Stools that are greasy or light in color
CAUSE /RISK FACTORS OF GALLBLADDER CANCER
There is no particular cause of GALLBLADDER cancer. When the glandular cells in the inner lining of GALLBLADDER began to develop changes in their DNA and grow uncontrollably, it leads to development of GALLBLADDER cancer.
- Gender- It is more common in females.
- Older age- Chances of developing it increases with increasing age. It is more prominent in people older than 70 years of age.
- Family history- If there had been cases in the family, it is possible for it to be passed down to the coming generation.
- Obesity and diabetes- People who are overweight and also those who have diabetes are at a higher risk of getting GALLBLADDER cancer.
- Gallstones- People who have had history of battling with gallstones have a slightly higher chance of developing the cancer.
- Abnormality of bile duct- Any defect in the linking of the bile duct and pancreas can increase the risk.
- Medical history of hormone replacement therapy- In women, oestrogen exposure during these therapies is linked with gallbladder cancer. In addition, patients in need of hormone transfusion or replacements are at risk of developing this disease.
- Cholecystitis- Most patients with gallbladder cancer have gallstones or gallbladder inflammation, known as cholecystitis. Gallstones are caused by the deposition of cholesterol and bile minerals in the gallbladder.
- GALLBLADDER polyps- These are the cholesterol deposits bulging from the outer surface of inner GALLBLADDER wall. These often become cancerous in later stages.
- Porcelain GALLBLADDER- Gallbladder cancer can occur in some patients once calcium deposits on the inner wall of the gallbladder because of repeated cholecystitis.
- Typhoid- People infected with the salmonella bacteria have greater chances of developing GALLBLADDER cancer.
- Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis- This leads to inflammation of bile duct which further increases the risk.
HOW TO KNOW IF I HAVE GALLBLADDER CANCER? (DIAGNOSIS)
- Physical examination and medical history – Any lumps, fluid build-up or tenderness in the abdominal area is checked. Also, medical history involving any symptoms or risk factors is examined.
- Liver function tests – Blood tests are done to check the levels of albumin, alkaline phosphates, AST, GGT, bilirubin etc.
- Imaging tests- These help give detailed pictures of the GALLBLADDER and further help provide a clearer diagnosis of the cancer.
- CT scan
- Cholangiography- to check if there are any blocked or dilated bile ducts.
- Angiography- Performed to check if there are any blocked blood vessels which are a sign of cancer spreading beyond GALLBLADDER. In this a thin tube is inserted into artery and contrast dye is injected which outlines the blood vessels.
- Laparoscopy- A thin tube with a light and a video camera is inserted into the abdomen through an incision, to have a clear image of the organs.
- Biopsy- This includes removal of cells from the concerned areas and checking them under a microscope.
- Tumor marker tests- Blood sample is checked for any increased levels of biomarkers (CEA and CA 19-9).
STAGES OF GALLBLADDER CANCER
There are 4 known stages of GALLBLADDER cancer. You can find more information about them here.
HOW TO TREAT GALLBLADDER CANCER
It is very important to get the right kind of treatment at the right time. Learn more about the treatment of GALLBLADDER cancer.
DRUGS USED FOR TREATING GALLBLADDER CANCER
Following are the list of drugs used to treat GALLBLADDER cancer.
HOW TO PREVENT GALLBLADDER CANCER?
- Exercise daily
- Follow a healthy diet
- Avoid consumption of alcohol
- Avoid sugar consumption
- Consume high fibre food
- Reduce consumption of food with high carbohydrates
- Have food that is rich in fats.