Gallbladder cancer is a disease in
which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the gallbladder.
The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on
the right side of your abdomen, just beneath your
liver. Its main function is to store bile - a fluid
that helps digest fats and that carries cholesterol
and toxins from your body. Bile is produced in your
liver and travels to your gallbladder and small
intestine through thin tubes collectively referred
to as the bile ducts.
When the cancer is caught early, removing your
gallbladder or part of the bile duct may eliminate
all the cancerous cells. In advanced cases,
treatment won't cure the disease but can help
relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms of gallbladder cancer
Gallbladder cancer rarely produces signs and symptoms in the early
stages. When symptoms do appear, they often resemble those of other,
more common, gallbladder problems, such as gallstones or infection.
These signs and symptoms include:
Many people with gallbladder cancer have some abdominal pain —
usually in the upper-right part of the abdomen.
your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice).
Jaundice results from high blood levels of bilirubin — the residue
from the breakdown of red blood cells. Normally, bilirubin is
metabolized in your liver and eliminated through the bile ducts. But
a blocked bile duct can cause bilirubin to accumulate in the blood.
The built-up pigments may turn your skin and the whites of your eyes
yellow and your urine dark brown. Because bilirubin isn't being
eliminated through the bile, your stools may also turn pale yellow
appetite or weight.
Signs and symptoms of bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma)
Jaundice is the most common initial sign of bile duct cancer. Other
signs and symptoms include:
Though uncommon, a blocked bile duct can cause bile to accumulate in
your gallbladder, making it larger than normal. Although your
gallbladder is hidden behind other organs in your abdomen, your
doctor may be able to feel this enlargement during a physical exam.
The bile pigment that leads to jaundice can cause significant
Brown, tea- or
appetite and weight.
Keep in mind that all of these signs and symptoms can result from
conditions other than cancer. Your doctor can help determine their exact
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