The gallbladder is located under the right lobe of liver. Its function is to collect and save bile that is produced in liver. This bile helps to digest fat in small intestine. Usually the gallbladder cancer is presented by adenocarcinoma (in 80 per cent of cases). The gallbladder cancer is divided into three categories according to its malignancy rate. It is defined by the tumor comparing with normal tissues of the organ. Usually it is the stage of disease that defines the gallbladder cancer prognosis.
Gallbladder cancer is not very frequent. For example, in the USA it comes fifth among malignant tumors in gastrointestinal tract. Women suffer from gallbladder cancer twice more often than men do. The majority of the patients are older than 70 years old. Unfortunately, usually it is diagnosed at early stage only in 25 per cent of cases. Usually gallbladder cancer is diagnosed accidentally after gallbladder ablation because of gallstone. Such tumors are very small and the patient does not feel any symptoms of cancer.
Because of the deep position of the organ, any changes are difficult to be defined during the usual routine inspection. Unfortunately, usually it is diagnosed at the late stage. And it is the main causes of not favorable gallbladder cancer prognosis for the majority of the patients. The best method of diagnosis is magnetic resonance imaging procedure combined with ultrasonic scanning.
Today, modern medicine knows some of the risk factors (i.e. the conditions that increase the risk) of gallbladder cancer development. But when the patient has one or several risk factors it does not mean that the diseases will develop.
So, the risk factors of gallbladder cancer include gallstone and inflammation, "porcelain" gallbladder, salmonella contamination, choledochal cyst, smoking, occupational diseases (rubber-processing and metal industry), age (older than 50 years old), polyp, obesity, diet (big part of carbohydrate and small part of dietary fiber), helicobacter pylori infection.
In the majority of cases it is impossible to prevent gallbladder cancer but it is possible to avoid some risk factors (e.g. to lose excess weight, to eat vegetables and fruits, to have regular physical activity and to give up smoking).
A timely diagnosis is the best method to prevent the disease or to have better and more effective treatment. In this case the patient should know the signs of the disease. So, the gallbladder cancer symptoms include pain in stomach, nausea and vomiting, jaundice, gallbladder enlargement, bad appetite, weight loss, enlargement of abdomen, evident pruritus and black stool.
It is necessary to note that some above symptoms may occur under other condition i.e. not oncological diseases, e.g. hepatitis and others. So, a detailed examination is needed in any case.
Surgery is the only method of gallbladder cancer treatment. Usually the gallbladder is ablated completely. If the tumor does not extend to the nearest tissues i.e. liver, lymph nodes the operation is possible.
Other methods of cancer treatment i.e. radiation therapy and chemotherapy are not effective in the case of gallbladder cancer.