Gallbladder cancer is a rare form of cancer that forms in the tissues of the gallbladder. It is a pear-shaped organ located in the upper right of your abdomen.
Gallbladder cancer begins its growth in the innermost layer of your gallbladder called the mucosal layer and it spreads outward. Gallbladder cancer is a type of cancer that affects mostly women in the North and North-east regions of India. The reported incidence every year is about 9 women per 100,000 in Northern India.
Gallbladder cancer is a rare but deadly disease that often goes undetected until it’s in the advanced stages. It’s often referred to as the silent killer because its symptoms are not noticeable at early stages and are mistaken for other less severe conditions. Often healthcare providers find gallbladder cancer by chance in some patients usually after gallbladder surgery.
Gallbladder cancer is more common among people of certain groups and conditions such as –
- Above the age of 65 years
- Women are more likely prone compared to men
- Chronic gallbladder inflammation
- Calcium build-up deposits in the gallbladder
- Bile duct inflammation
- Salmonella typhi bacteria that cause typhoid
As gallbladder cancer is asymptomatic in its early stages, it’s so difficult to get detected. However, as cancer progresses, symptoms of cancer may start to appear. These symptoms may include –
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Lumps in abdomen
Some patients may also experience fever and chills. It’s important to note that these symptoms can be similar to those of other conditions, such as gallstones or hepatitis, so it’s important to get a proper diagnosis to rule out other potential causes.
If you’re experiencing any of these cancer symptoms, it’s important to speak with your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor may recommend imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or CT scan, to check for abnormalities in your gallbladder. If cancer is suspected, a biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis.
Tests are performed to detect gallbladder cancer if your provider suspects you’ve gallbladder cancer when a visit to the doctor is made for the removal of gallstones. They’ll do tests such as –
1. Laboratory Tests – It detects substances in the blood that can be a sign of cancer –
- Liver function Test – Measures the substances released from the liver that determine if you’ve gallbladder cancer.
- Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) assay – It measures the levels of CEA that mark the release of both healthy and cancerous cells.
- CA 19-9 assay – It measures the tumor marker in the blood. If the level is high then it is a sign of gallbladder cancer.
2. Imaging Tests – Imaging tests determine the stage and signs of cancer. The various imaging tests performed are –
- Abdominal Ultrasound – It uses sound waves to create pictures of organs within your abdomen.
- Endoscopic Ultrasound – It uses endoscopy i.e. a tube-like instrument to create pictures of the digestive tract.
- CT (Computed Tomography) scan – It takes detailed images of internal organs.
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) – It uses magnetic radio waves to create detailed images of internal organs.
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) – Is an x-ray procedure performed to detect if the bile duct has gotten narrow due to gallbladder cancer.
3. Surgeries – These include the examination of tissues through surgical procedures such as –
- Biopsy – It removes a small amount of tissue to examine the presence of cancer cells.
- Laparoscopy – It is a small thin tube inserted inside the abdomen to check the presence of gallbladder cancer.
The treatments for cancer are determined based on the cancer stage. If the cancer is at an early stage then it is removed through treatments. If the cancer is advanced and detected at a later stage then it cannot be removed completely. For such patients, new treatments are recommended by extending the life span and managing symptoms.
Early-stage gallbladder cancer treatments –
Surgery is the best treatment choice for early-stage gallbladder cancer treatment. Let’s look at all the available treatment options –
- Surgery – The surgeon will remove the affected gallbladder and nearby tissues of cancer cells such as lymph nodes or part of your liver.
- Radiation Therapy – It uses radiation to kill the remaining cancer cells that are left behind after surgery. The therapy also reduces your symptoms to a vast extent.
- Chemotherapy – It uses drugs to kill cancer cells by stopping them from growing. It can also be used as a combination treatment with radiation therapy for improved cancer cure.
New treatments for recurrent or metastatic cancer –
Treatments that are being tested under clinical trials to treat severe cases of gallbladder cancer are as follows –
- Immunotherapy – It boosts your immune system to identify and destroy cancer cells.
- Targeted Therapy – It destroys specific proteins that help in cancer growth.
- Radiosensitizers – These make cancer cells more sensitive to the treatments of radiation therapy.
While there’s no surefire way to prevent gallbladder cancer, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. These include maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and getting regular check-ups with your doctor. If you have a history of gallstones, it’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations to monitor your gallbladder for acquiring proper treatments.
Gallbladder Cancer is a rare but deadly disease and getting proper treatment on time can help you in treating cancer effectively. Uhapo has a well-qualified cancer care service network that specializes in providing a variety of chemotherapy services. We are a dedicated team of health professionals providing effective solutions to all cancer patients in need. If you’ve concerns regarding your treatments and disorders then you can connect to Uhapo’s contact page – https://www.uhapo.co.in/contact/ or 24/7 Support Number +91-9137-44-1392 for supportive care regarding your necessary issues with cancer.