Gallbladder is one among the 20 most common cancers in the world. Approximately 178,100 new gallbladder cases were reported globally in the year 2012.
The gallbladder is a small organ present below the liver which stores bile. The diagnosis of the gallbladder cancer is difficult as it does not cause any specific signs. If the gallbladder cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, then the probability of recovery is more. However, most of the gallbladder cancers are diagnosed at the last stages.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Gallbladder Cancer?
In most of the Gallbladder Cancers, symptoms are not seen until the last stages of cancer. In rare cases, few signs and symptoms are seen in the early stages. The various signs and symptoms that may indicate gallbladder cancer are as follows:
- Abdominal Pain
- Weight loss
- Dark urine
- Greasy or pale stools
Can Gallbladder Cancer Be Prevented?
There’s no known way to prevent most gallbladder cancers. Many of the known risk factors for gallbladder cancer, such as age, gender, ethnicity, and bile duct defects, are beyond our control. But there are things you can do that might help lower your risk.
Taking these steps helps maintain good health and may reduce a person’s risk of gallbladder cancer, as well as many other types of cancer:
- Get to and stay at a healthy weight
- Keep physically active and limit the time you spend sitting or lying down
- Follow a healthy eating pattern that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limits or avoids red and processed meats, sugary drinks, and highly processed foods
- It’s best not to drink alcohol. If you do drink, have no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men
Treatment of gallbladder cancer
Surgery can potentially cure gallbladder cancer, but all of the cancer must be removed. This is only an option when the cancer’s found early, before its spread to nearby organs and other parts of the body.
Unfortunately, statistics from the ACS show only about 1 in 5 people get a diagnosis before the cancer has spread.
Chemotherapy and radiation are often used to make sure all the cancer is gone after surgery. It’s also used to treat gallbladder cancer that can’t be removed. It can’t cure the cancer but can prolong life and treat symptoms.
When gallbladder cancer is advanced, surgery can still be done to relieve symptoms. This is called palliative care. Other types of palliative care may include:
- pain medication
- nausea medication
- placing a tube, or stent, in the bile duct to keep it open so it can drain
Palliative care is also used when surgery can’t be done because a person isn’t healthy enough.
What are the Stages of Gallbladder Cancer?
The stages of gallbladder cancer are differentiated based on the extent to which it is spread. The various stages of the gallbladder cancer include:
Stage I: Gallbladder cancer affects only the inner layers of the gallbladder in the first stage.
Stage II: In stage II, the gallbladder cancer is spread up to the outer layers of the gallbladder.
Stage III: Gallbladder cancer affects the surrounding organs such as the liver, stomach or the small intestines in the third stage.
Stage IV: In the last stage of the gallbladder cancer, large tumors are seen in the gallbladder, surrounding areas or even in the faraway organs of the body.
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