Gallbladder - Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment - Cancer Rounds

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Gallbladder – Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment


Gallbladder cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the gallbladder, a small, pear-shaped organ located below the liver. It is a rare type of cancer and symptoms include abdominal pain, jaundice, and a lump in the abdomen. 

Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Early detection is key for the best chance of successful treatment. 


 Things to know about gallbladder cancer 

  1. Rare: Gallbladder cancer is a rare form of cancer. 
  2. Symptoms: Symptoms of gallbladder cancer can include abdominal pain, jaundice, and a lump in the abdomen. 
  3. Risk factors: Risk factors for gallbladder cancer include age, gender (women are more at risk), gallstones, family history, and certain medical conditions. 
  4. Detection: Early detection is key for the best chance of successful treatment, so regular check-ups and scans are important. 
  5. Treatment: Treatment options for gallbladder cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. 
  6. Prognosis: The prognosis for gallbladder cancer depends on many factors, including the stage of cancer and the overall health of the patient. 
  7. Lifestyle: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, may help reduce the risk of developing gallbladder cancer. 


Symptoms of gallbladder cancer 

  • Abdominal pain: A persistent or worsening pain in the upper right side of the abdomen. 
  • Jaundice: Yellowing of the skin and eyes caused by the buildup of bilirubin in the bloodstream. 
  • Nausea and vomiting: Feeling like throwing up. 
  • Loss of appetite: A lack of desire to eat food. 
  • Unexpected weight loss: A sudden, unintended loss of weight. 
  • Fatigue: A feeling of exhaustion and weakness. 
  • Abdominal swelling: A noticeable increase in the size of the abdomen. 
  • Dark urine: Urine that is a dark yellow or brown color. 
  • Light-colored stools: Stools that are pale or clay-colored instead of the usual brown color. 

It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, so it’s crucial to seek medical advice if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. 


Diagnosis of gallbladder cancer 

The following tests and procedures can be used to diagnose gallbladder cancer: 

  1. Physical exam: The doctor will examine the patient’s abdomen for any signs of swelling or tenderness. 
  2. Blood tests: Blood tests can be used to check for elevated levels of certain substances, such as bilirubin, that can indicate the presence of cancer. 
  3. Ultrasound: An ultrasound creates pictures of the interior of the body by using high-frequency sound waves.
  4. CT scan: A CT scan uses X-rays and computer technology to create detailed images of the inside of the body. 
  5. MRI: An MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body. 
  6. Cholangiography: A type of X-ray test that involves injecting a contrast dye into the bile ducts to make them visible on the images. 
  7. Biopsy: A biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of tissue is taken from the suspicious area for examination under a microscope. 

It’s important to consult with a doctor to determine the best diagnostic approach based on individual circumstances. 


Treatment of gallbladder cancer  

The treatment options for gallbladder cancer may include: 

  • Surgery: The most common treatment for gallbladder cancer is surgery to remove the cancerous gallbladder (cholecystectomy). 
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be given before or after surgery. 
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. 
  • Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy uses drugs that target specific genes or proteins that help cancer cells grow. 
  • Palliative care: Palliative care is a treatment that focuses on relieving the symptoms and improving the quality of life for people with advanced cancer. 

The choice of treatment depends on various factors, such as the stage and location of cancer, the patient’s age and overall health, and personal preferences.

A team of healthcare professionals, including a surgeon, medical oncologist, and radiation oncologist, will work together to determine the best course of treatment. 


The prognosis for gallbladder cancer 

The prognosis for gallbladder cancer depends on several factors, including: 

  • Stage of cancer: The stage of cancer (how advanced it is) is the most important factor in determining the prognosis. 
  • Location of cancer: The location of cancer within the gallbladder can also affect the prognosis. 
  • Age and overall health: The patient’s age and overall health can also play a role in the prognosis. 
  • Treatment response: The response to treatment, such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy, can also affect the prognosis. 

In general, the prognosis for early-stage gallbladder cancer is better than for advanced-stage cancer. With appropriate treatment, some patients may achieve long-term survival, while others may have a shorter prognosis.

It’s important to work closely with a healthcare team to understand the prognosis and available treatment options. 

Posted by, magneto
January 31, 2023

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