Gallbladder Cancer


When body cells begin to proliferate out of control, cancer develops. Cancerous cells can develop in almost any portion of the body and spread to other organs. Understanding the function of the gallbladder can help you better comprehend this malignancy. Under the liver sits a little, pear-shaped organ called the gallbladder. Behind the right lower ribs lie the liver and gallbladder. The gallbladder is typically 3 to 4 inches long and a little broader than an inch in adults. Gallbladder cancer is a rare type of cancer worldwide but is one of the most common cancers in India. The Indo-Gangetic Plain has the highest incidence of this cancer in the world. It is often diagnosed at an advanced stage because it typically does not cause noticeable symptoms in its early stages.

Bile, a substance produced by the liver, is concentrated and kept in the gallbladder. As food travels through the small intestine, bile aids in the digestion of dietary lipids. The liver produces bile, which is then either delivered through ducts to the small intestine or is stored in the gallbladder and released later.

The cystic duct is a tiny tube that the gallbladder squeezes to release bile during the digestion of food, particularly fatty meals. The common bile duct is created when the cystic duct combines with the common hepatic duct, which originates from the liver. At the ampulla of Vater, the common bile duct combines with the pancreatic duct, which is the major pancreatic duct, to discharge into the duodenum, the first segment of the small intestine. Although it aids in digestion, the gallbladder is not necessary for survival. After having their gallbladders removed, many individuals resume their regular lifestyles.


When the tumor is big and/or has progressed later in the course of the disease, gallbladder cancer typically doesn't show any early warning signs or symptoms. However, symptoms might occasionally show up earlier and result in an early diagnosis. The effectiveness of the treatment may be improved if the cancer is discovered sooner.

Some of the more common symptoms of gallbladder cancer include:

  • Abdominal pain, particularly in the upper right side
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Fever and chills
  • Itchy skin


The exact etiology of gallbladder cancer is unknown.

Doctors are aware that the development of DNA abnormalities in healthy gallbladder cells leads to the development of gallbladder cancer. The instructions that inform a cell what to do are encoded in its DNA. The modifications instruct the cells to proliferate unchecked and to live longer than other cells would otherwise. The collecting cells create a tumor, which has the potential to move outside of the gallbladder and to other parts of the body.

The glandular cells that line the inner surface of the gallbladder are where the majority of gallbladder cancers start. Adenocarcinoma, which develops in these cells, is the medical term for gallbladder cancer. When cancer cells are inspected under a microscope, they take on this description. The exact cause of gallbladder cancer is not well understood. However, certain factors may increase the risk of developing the disease. These risk factors include:

  • Gallstones: The presence of gallstones, particularly larger ones, is a significant risk factor for gallbladder cancer. Gallstones can cause inflammation and irritation of the gallbladder over time, potentially leading to the development of cancer.
  • Age and gender: Gallbladder cancer is more common in older individuals, with the average age at diagnosis being 65 years or older. It is also more prevalent in women than in men.
  • Obesity: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing gallbladder cancer.
  • Ethnicity: Gallbladder cancer is more common in certain ethnic groups.
  • Anomalous pancreaticobiliary duct junction: A congenital condition where the ducts from the pancreas and gallbladder join outside the small intestine, which can increase the risk of gallbladder cancer.


Because there are rarely signs or symptoms in the early stages, and those symptoms resemble other conditions, providers often diagnose gallbladder cancer late. They often discover it because you have gallstones or need your gallbladder removed.

If your provider suspects you might have gallbladder cancer, they’ll examine you and ask about your medical history. Then, they’ll perform tests.

Gallbladder Cancer Treatment:

The greatest treatment results are obtained when gallbladder cancer is removed surgically at an early stage by your doctor.

Surgery: Your gallbladder and surrounding tissue may be removed by a medical professional known as a surgical oncologist (cholecystectomy). A straightforward cholecystectomy just involves the removal of the gallbladder, says the surgeon. The surgeon will remove more tissues containing cancer cells during an extended cholecystectomy, such as the afflicted lymph nodes or a portion of your liver.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy employs medications to either kill or inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy, like radiation, may aid in the elimination of any residual cancer cells following surgery.

Radiation therapy: This procedure employs an external body radiation therapy (EBRT) system to target radiation at the malignancy. Radiation reduces the amount of harm done to healthy cells while killing cancer cells or slowing tumor development. After surgery, you could require this procedure to eliminate any cancer cells that remain. Additionally, radiation may help with symptoms.

There is no cure for cancers that cannot be surgically removed (unresectable), have come back (recurrent), or have spread (metastatic). Chemotherapy and radiation therapy won't cure the disease, but they can lessen your symptoms and prolong your life. Similar to how operations cannot cure cancer, they may be necessary to treat symptoms if tumors in your digestive tract cause obstructions.

You could qualify to participate in a clinical trial. A clinical trial is a research that evaluates both novel therapies and innovative treatment modalities. Clinical studies are now being conducted on the following therapies for gallbladder cancer:

Targeted therapy: Treatment that specifically targets cancer cells with specific gene alterations is known as targeted treatment.

Immunotherapy: A kind of treatment that strengthens your immune system to make it more adept at locating and eliminating cancer cells.

Radiosensitizers: Treatment that makes cancer cells more sensitive to the effects of radiation therapy.

Ask your healthcare provider if you’re a candidate for a clinical trial.

The choice of treatment depends on several factors, and it is important to consult with a healthcare professional who specializes in the treatment of gallbladder cancer for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.

Since gallbladder cancer is often detected at an advanced stage, the prognosis can be challenging. Early detection and prompt treatment offer the best chances of successful outcomes.

Gallbladder cancer is an uncommon but deadly condition. If you see any gallbladder cancer signs, make an appointment as soon as you can with your doctor. Remember that whereas other cancers may exhibit early warning signals, gallbladder cancer may not become apparent until it is far advanced. It's critical to receive treatment as soon as you can.

Category: Gallbladder Cancer
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