Gallbladder Cancer & Treatment

What is gallbladder cancer?

Gallbladder cancer occurs when an abnormal growth of cells begin in the gallbladder, and continue growing, forming a mass or lump called a tumour. The type of tumour is defined by the particular type of cells that are affected. It is not yet clear exactly what causes gallbladder cancer although virtually all patients with gallbladder cancer have gallstones. Most gallbladder cancer begins in the glandular cells that line the inner surface of the gallbladder.

Although gallbladder cancer is rare, affecting less than a thousand Australians each year, due to the discreet positioning of the gallbladder and it’s small size, it often goes undetected. Discovered early, the prognosis for gallbladder cancer recovery is very good, but when discovered at a later stage the prognosis is unfortunately often poor.

Gallbladder cancer may not be discovered until it has advanced as it does not have any specific signs or symptoms.

Gallbladder Cancer - symptoms

Gallbladder cancer can be difficult to detect as patients do not often present symptoms. However some gallbladder cancer signs and symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain in the upper right portion of the abdomen
  • Bloating
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and are concerned, you should make an appointment with your doctor.
The risk of gallbladder cancer increases with:

  • Gender – gallbladder cancer is more common in women.
  • Age – the risk increases as you age, with gallbladder cancer being most common in those aged 65+.
  • History of gallstones – if you have a history of gallstones you are more likely to be diagnosed with gallbladder cancer.
  • Bile duct inflammation – this also increases the risk of gallbladder cancer.

Gallbladder Cancer - diagnosis

If your doctor suspects you may have gallbladder cancer following a physical exam and a series of tests, you will likely be referred to a specialist who will perform the some or all of the following diagnostic tests:

  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasound
  • CT Scan
  • MRI
  • Diagnostic laparoscopy
  • Rarely biopsy

Gallbladder Cancer Treatment

Once diagnosed, your doctor will discuss the best treatment options for your cancer. Treatment options will depend on the type of cancer, whether the cancer has spread, while considering you age, fitness and general overall health.

The main treatments for gallbladder cancer include gallbladder cancer surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, given alone or in combination.

If you would like to make an appointment to discuss gallbladder cancer treatment options please call our practice on (03) 9509 4811 to make an appointment, or you can make an appointment online

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