Gallbladder cancer is a very rare condition that is not diagnosed usually. Symptoms do occur which are not watched out. Sometimes the symptoms appear early but sometimes it does not. The motive of this blog is to raise awareness about gallbladder cancer. So people can look out for any symptoms associated with the cancer.
What is Gallbladder Cancer?
An uncontrolled cell growth in any parts of the body that spreads to other parts is called Cancer. Any uncontrolled cell growth that starts in the gallbladder and then goes on to spread to other parts of the body is termed as Gallbladder Cancer.
Cancer Diagnosed while Removing Gallstones – Normal Course
Normally the patients come complaining with
- Pain in the abdomen, nausea and vomiting – These are symptoms typical of presence of gallstones. These symptoms generally manifest after gallstone formation. So the surgeon recommends taking an ultrasound to confirm the presence of gallstones.
- Presence of gallstones – Many times directly the patients walk in with ultrasound reports with them. Most ultrasound report would report the presence of gallstones only.
So the above diagnosis will lead the gastro surgeon to perform gallbladder removal surgery. Gallbladder cancers are detected accidentally in the course of a gallbladder surgery. As a protocol, the surgeons look out for the presence of unusual cancer cells usually during any surgery. If the surgeons notice anything unusual during the cholecystectomy (the gallbladder removal surgery), they would definitely do the protocol necessary to remove the cancer cells present. This can be done to some extent only. Any cancer that has spread to liver is stage-4 in nature. Gallbladder is present right beneath the liver anatomically. They are literally attached to the liver. Hence gallbladder cancer easily spreads to the liver. When gallbladder cancer presents, the cancer cells would have spread to the liver. The surgeons would remove the gallbladder and would send the tissues for biopsy.
Gallbladder Cancer Diagnosis During Physical Examination – Rare Course
Sometimes on physical examination, the patients might show the following symptoms.
- Jaundice – The cancer cells can obstruct the bile flow. This obstruction can cause jaundice. This hampers the flow of bile into the intestine. Hence the bilirubin starts mixing in the blood to cause Jaundice. This condition happens only when the cancer has considerably grown.
- Lumps in the belly – This is very similar to the previous point. The cancer growth can obstruct the bile duct. This obstruction can cause the gallbladder to swell. This can create a lump. This lump can feel in the abdomen.
The presence of these two symptoms might give a sort of doubt in the mind of the surgeon. Hence the surgeon can rightly doubt the presence of gallbladder cancer. So the surgeon might ask for further diagnosis to confirm the presence of cancer. The two diagnostic methods used in cancer detection are endoscopic ultrasound and CT Scan. The diagnosis can confirm the presence of cancer in the gallbladder and can also ascertain the stage. The surgeon would then follow the cancer treatment protocol.
Dr Maran is an experienced Surgeon in the field of Gastro-enterology. He specializes in Advanced laparoscopic Surgery procedures of the gastro-intestinal (GI) tracts. Dr. Maran is also a leading Bariatric Surgeon in Chennai and has a penchant for addressing problems concerning Obesity.