Diagnosing Gallbladder Cancer

Explore advanced gallbladder cancer treatment options available in China.

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Gallbladder cancer refers to the abnormal growth of cells within the gallbladder, leading to the formation of tumors. Early diagnosis of gallbladder cancer is critical as it allows for timely intervention and treatment. Detecting the cancer at an early stage increases the likelihood of successful treatment outcomes and improves the chances of effective management strategies. Early diagnosis also facilitates the implementation of appropriate treatment modalities, potentially preventing the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body and minimizing complications.


Tests and procedures used to diagnose gallbladder cancer include:

  • Blood tests. Blood tests to evaluate your liver function may help your doctor determine what’s causing your signs and symptoms.
  • Procedures to create images of the gallbladder. Imaging tests that can create pictures of the gallbladder include ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Determining the extent of gallbladder cancer

Upon diagnosing gallbladder cancer, your doctor endeavors to determine its extent or stage, which is crucial for prognosis and treatment planning. Staging procedures for gallbladder cancer typically include:

  • Exploratory surgery. Your doctor may recommend surgery to look inside your abdomen for signs that gallbladder cancer has spread.

    In a procedure called laparoscopy, the surgeon makes a small incision in your abdomen and inserts a tiny camera. The camera allows the surgeon to examine organs surrounding your gallbladder for signs that the cancer has spread.

  • Tests to examine the bile ducts. Your doctor may recommend procedures to inject dye into the bile ducts. This is followed by an imaging test that records where the dye goes. These tests can show blockages in the bile ducts.

    These tests may include magnetic resonance cholangiography and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).

  • Additional imaging tests. Most people with gallbladder cancer will undergo a series of scans to help determine whether the cancer has spread or remains localized. Which scans should be performed vary depending on your circumstances. Common scans include a CT and MRI scans of the abdomen and chest.

Your doctor uses information from these procedures to assign your cancer a stage. The stages of gallbladder cancer range from 0 to IV. The earliest stages indicate a cancer that’s confined to the gallbladder. Later stages indicate more-advanced cancer that has grown to involve nearby organs or has spread to other areas of the body.

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