June 05, 2023
This rare type of cancer occurs in the gallbladder, a small organ located under the liver that helps store bile, a fluid aiding digestion. This type of cancer is difficult to detect in its early stages and is often diagnosed at later stages when treatment options are limited. American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 12,220 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with gallbladder and other biliary cancers in 2023.
In this blog post, we will share the gallbladder cancer symptoms and what you need to know in order to enable early detection. Read on to learn more.
Although the exact cause of gallbladder cancer is still unknown, researchers have identified several risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing this disease. Some of the common risk factors for gallbladder cancer are as follows:
The risk of developing gallbladder cancer increases as you get older. Most people diagnosed with this cancer are over 65 years of age.
The longer a person has had gallstones, the greater the risk of developing this cancer.
Long-term inflammation of the gallbladder can increase your risk.
It is a condition in which the wall of the gallbladder becomes covered with calcium deposits. This condition increases the risk of developing gallbladder cancer.
Inherited gene mutations may increase the risk of developing gallbladder cancer.
The presence of one or more of these risk factors does not confirm that a person will develop gallbladder cancer. However, it is crucial to be aware of these risk factors and to talk to a primary care physician if case of any concerns.
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Although the symptoms of gallbladder cancer can be nonspecific, if they are persistent, then individuals should consult a doctor for advice. The following are some of the gallbladder cancer symptoms to watch out for.
In the case of gallbladder cancer, the pain usually occurs in the upper right portion of the abdomen. It may be dull and persistent or come and go in waves. If left untreated, the pain may also radiate to the back or shoulder blades over time.
It is a condition where the skin and the eyes turn yellow due to excessive buildup of bilirubin, a substance produced by the liver. Gallbladder cancer often causes jaundice when the tumor blocks the bile ducts. It may also produce symptoms like pale stools and dark urine.
If cancer has spread to the liver or other organs in the abdomen, it can cause abdominal swelling. Swelling can also lead to a feeling of fullness or discomfort in the abdomen.
Although it is a less common symptom of gallbladder cancer, it may occur in some cases. Over time, small red patches can be seen in the skin over the abdominal area due to blood clots.
High body temperature along with severe abdominal or back pain can be a result of gallbladder cancer. If the fever is persistent and followed by chills, it is crucial to consult a primary care physician immediately.
Gallbladder cancer often blocks the bile ducts, causing a buildup of bile, which can lead to loss of appetite and extreme nausea. If left unaddressed, the condition can worsen and eventually lead to vomiting and extreme weight loss.
These signs and symptoms of gallbladder cancer are not exclusive to gallbladder cancer and may also be present in other conditions. Therefore, it is essential to consult a doctor if any of these symptoms persist or worsen.
The prognosis for gallbladder cancer depends on the stage at which it is diagnosed. In general, gallbladder cancer has a poor prognosis because it is often detected at an advanced stage. However, if it is diagnosed at an early stage, the chances of successful treatment and cure are higher. The 5-year survival rate for localized (confined to the gallbladder) gallbladder cancer is 80%.
The treatment options for this cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of these therapies. Oncologists may also recommend cancer immunotherapy, a new treatment approach for treating gallbladder cancer.
In some cases, surgery may be curative, especially if the cancer is diagnosed early and has not spread beyond the gallbladder. However, if cancer has metastasized and spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver, pancreas, or lymph nodes, the prognosis may be poor, and treatment may focus on palliative care, including managing symptoms and improving quality of life.
Every case of gallbladder cancer is unique, and the outlook for each person depends on several factors. Individuals should discuss treatment options and the expected outcomes with a qualified healthcare team who can provide individualized information and support.
Not all gallbladder problems are cancerous, and many of the symptoms associated with gallbladder cancer may be caused by other conditions. Therefore, individuals should watch out for the signs and seek immediate medical attention for the best possible outcome. For any queries or concerns about gallbladder cancer, contact ACTC, one of the best cancer treatment centers in Florida that offer personalized cancer care. Visit our website or contact us to schedule an appointment with our board-certified oncologists.