Gallbladder Cancer Symptoms

Explore advanced gallbladder cancer treatment options available in China.

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Gallbladder cancer is a malignancy that starts in the gallbladder, a small organ beneath the liver. Identifying its symptoms early is crucial because early detection allows for prompt treatment, which can improve outcomes. Early-stage cancer may be more treatable with surgery, while advanced stages may require more aggressive therapies. Addressing symptoms early also improves quality of life by managing discomfort and potential complications.

Symptoms

Gallbladder cancer signs and symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain, particularly in the upper right portion of the abdomen
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)

Causes

It’s not clear what causes gallbladder cancer.

Doctors know that gallbladder cancer forms when healthy gallbladder cells develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. A cell’s DNA contains the instructions that tell a cell what to do. The changes tell the cells to grow out of control and to continue living when other cells would normally die. The accumulating cells form a tumor that can grow beyond the gallbladder and spread to other areas of the body.

Most gallbladder cancer begins in the glandular cells that line the inner surface of the gallbladder. Gallbladder cancer that begins in this type of cell is called adenocarcinoma. This term refers to the way the cancer cells appear when examined under a microscope.

Risk factors

Factors that can increase the risk of gallbladder cancer include:

  • Your sex. Gallbladder cancer is more common in women.
  • Your age. Your risk of gallbladder cancer increases as you age.
  • A history of gallstones. Gallbladder cancer is most common in people who have gallstones or have had gallstones in the past. Larger gallstones may carry a larger risk. Still, gallstones are very common and even in people with this condition, gallbladder cancer is very rare.
  • Other gallbladder diseases and conditions. Other gallbladder conditions that can increase the risk of gallbladder cancer include polyps, chronic inflammation and infection.
  • Inflammation of the bile ducts. Primary sclerosing cholangitis, which causes inflammation of the ducts that drain bile from the gallbladder and liver, increases the risk of gallbladder cancer.

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