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3d rendered medically accurate illustration of the gallbladder cancer. (Source: Shutterstock)

Gallbladder cancer


Definition of gallbladder cancer


Gallbladder cancer is a malignant disorder of the epithelial tissue of the gall bladder.

Cancer of the bile ducts, such as biliary tract and gallbladder cancers are overall quite rare, with five diseases per 100,000 people.

Causes of gallbladder cancer

Gallbladder cancers often occur in patients with gallstones. Although in 75 percent of cases with gall bladder stones, there is so far no evidence of a causal link. Also, a so-called "porcelain gallbladder" has a higher risk to degenerate malignant. One distinguishes the tumours according to their cell types such as adenocarcinoma (glandular), signet ring cell carcinoma, sarcoma cells, etc.

Symptoms of gallbladder cancer

The relatively late-occurring symptoms of cancer are a slowly increasing and painless jaundice (Ikterus), upper abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and weight loss. Gallbladder cancers metastasize early on in the liver.

Diagnosis of gallbladder cancer

An Endoscopic Retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is used for the diagnosis. The endoscope is inserted through the mouth and moved down the throat into the oesophagus, and then into the duodenum. From there, a contrast agent is injected into the bile duct/the gallbladder. The X-ray can assess more accurately the bile ducts and gall bladder.


Gallbladder cancer can be diagnosed with:


  • ultrasound,

  • computer tomography (CT),

  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and

  • any PTC (the percutaneous TRANS-hepatic cholangiography, a radiographic method procedure)

Therapies for gallbladder cancer

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