What is Gallbladder Cancer Treatment ?

October 20, 2021 Cancer Hub 31 Views

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What is the meaning of Gallbladder Cancer?

A condition in which there is an abnormal growth of cells beginning in the gallbladder is known as gallbladder cancer.

The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ situated on the right side of the stomach (abdomen), just beneath the liver.

The gallbladder stores bile, which is a digestive fluid produced by the liver.

Gallbladder cancer is a rare occurrence. However, when gallbladder cancer does occur, it may not be diagnosed early as in the earlier stages it has no specific signs or symptoms. When discovered at a later stage, the prognosis of the disease is very poor.

In today’s article, we will be talking in detail about gallbladder cancer.

  • What are the causes of Gallbladder Cancer?
  • What are the risk factors for Gallbladder Cancer?
  • What are the symptoms of Gallbladder Cancer?
  • How to diagnose Gallbladder Cancer?
  • What is the treatment for Gallbladder Cancer?
  • What are the complications of Gallbladder Cancer Treatment?
  • How to prevent Gallbladder Cancer?
  • What is the cost of Gallbladder Cancer Treatment in India?

What are the causes of Gallbladder Cancer?

  • The exact cause of gallbladder cancer is unknown. 
  • However, gallbladder cancer is thought to occur when changes (mutation) in an individual’s DNA lead to rapid and uncontrolled growth of the cells.
  • As the number of cells increases rapidly, a tumor or mass forms in the gallbladder.
  • If untreated, these cells spread to the nearby tissues and distant parts of the body.

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What are the risk factors for Gallbladder Cancer?

A few factors increase the risk of developing Gallbladder Cancer. These factors include:

  • Increase in age
  • More common in women
  • History of gallstones
  • Inflammation of the bile ducts (thin tubes that go from the liver to the small intestine)
  • Family history of gallbladder cancer
  • Porcelain gallbladder, in which walls of the gallbladder get calcified and appear white. This happens after the condition of chronic cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder)
  • Presence of gallbladder polyps (abnormal tissue growth)
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis (scar formation due to inflammation of the bile ducts)

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What are the symptoms of Gallbladder Cancer?

The symptoms of gallbladder cancer include:

  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eye)

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  • Lumps in the abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Bloating of the abdomen

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How to diagnose Gallbladder Cancer?

Gallbladder cancer rarely has any symptoms seen in the early stages. Therefore, it is usually diagnosed in the later stages. It may be found by coincidence in a gallbladder that has been removed for some conditions like chronic cholecystitis or other conditions.

In case of suspected gallbladder cancer, the doctor first examines the patient and asks the patient about his/her medical and family history.

The doctor may recommend the following tests to confirm the diagnosis of gallbladder cancer:

  • Blood tests: These tests help in measuring the levels of vital substances in the blood, including those that could indicate cancer.
  • Liver function test: This test helps in measuring the levels of substances released by the liver, that could indicate if the liver is affected by gallbladder cancer.

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  • Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) assay: This test helps in measuring the CEA levels, which is a tumor marker that is released by healthy and cancerous cells.
  • CA 19-9 assay: CA 19-9 (a tumor marker) levels are measured in the blood. A high level could indicate gallbladder or pancreatic cancer.
  • Chest X-ray: It is done to view the internal organs of the body.
  • CT scan: An imaging test done to obtain detailed images of the internal organs of the body.
  • MRI scan: An imaging test done by using a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to obtain clear images of the internal organs of the body.
  • Abdominal ultrasound: It is a procedure in which sound waves are used to create images of the organs within the abdomen.
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP): It is an x-ray procedure in which pictures of bile ducts are taken. Gallbladder cancer leads to the narrowing of these ducts.
  • Endoscopic ultrasound: A special endoscope (a thin, long tube with a camera on one end inserted directly into the body) is used in this procedure to obtain images of the internal organs of the body.
  • Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiopancreatography (PTC): This is a type of x-ray that is taken after injecting a dye, to check for blockages in the liver or the bile ducts.
  • Biopsy: A procedure that involves the excision of the tissue growth and sending it to the laboratory for examination is known as a biopsy.
  • Laparoscopy: It is a procedure in which a laparoscope (a thin tube with a light on one end) is inserted into the abdomen (stomach) through a small incision to look inside the body.

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What is the treatment for Gallbladder Cancer?

There are various modes of treatment for gallbladder cancer include:

  • Surgery:
    • Surgery can be done in case of early-stage cancer.
    • When the cancer is limited to the gallbladder, it is treated using surgery to remove the gallbladder (known as cholecystectomy).
    • Gallbladder cancer that extends beyond the gallbladder into the liver is treated by surgery to remove the gallbladder and some portions of the liver and the bile ducts that are surrounding the gallbladder.
    • In case of cancer cells that still remain after surgery, the doctor may recommend additional treatments like chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
  • Chemotherapy:
    • This method involves the use of drugs for killing rapidly growing cells, including cancer cells.
    • The drugs can be given in the form of a pill or can be administered through a vein in the arm (intravenously).
    • Chemotherapy can be done in cases where surgery is not an option, or in cases where the cancer cells still remain after surgery.
  • Radiation therapy:
    • In this procedure, high-powered energy beams are used to kill the cancer cells.
    • These energy beams are emitted from a machine that moves around the patient who is lying on a table.
    • Radiation therapy can sometimes be combined with chemotherapy after surgery if the cancer cells have not been removed completely.
    • Radiation therapy can be also used to control symptoms of gallbladder cancer like pain if surgery is not an option.
  • Targeted drug therapy:
    • This type of therapy is done by drugs that focus on specific weaknesses of the cancer cells.
    • This causes the death of cancer cells.
    • This form of treatment is used in advanced cases of gallbladder cancer.
  • Immunotherapy:
    • This is a form of drug treatment that helps the immune system (body’s disease-fighting system) in fighting cancer.
    • It is used in advanced cases of gallbladder cancer.

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What are the complications of Gallbladder Cancer Treatment?

The complications associated with the various gallbladder cancer treatments include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Blood clot formation
  • Pain
  • Diarrhea

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  • Injury to the bile ducts
  • Digestion problems
  • Diabetes
  • Damage to the liver
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores or ulcers
  • Fatigue
  • Skin changes
  • Weight gain or weight loss

If you notice any of the above symptoms post-treatment of gallbladder cancer, contact your doctor immediately.

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How to prevent Gallbladder Cancer?

The gallbladder cannot be prevented, but following a few tips can help in lowering the risk of developing gallbladder cancer, which includes:

  • Regular exercising
  • Maintenance of a healthy weight
  • Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet which includes fresh fruits and vegetables

What is the cost of Gallbladder Cancer Treatment in India?

The total cost of gallbladder cancer treatment in India can range from around INR 2,50,000 to INR 7,50,000. However, the cost of the procedure may vary across different hospitals. There are many big hospitals and specialized doctors in India for gallbladder cancer treatment. The cost varies across different hospitals. 

If you are coming from abroad, in addition to the expenses of gallbladder cancer treatment, there will be a cost of staying in a hotel, cost of living, and cost of local travel. Apart from this, after the procedure, the patient is kept in hospital for 5 days and in the hotel for 15 days for recovery. So, the total cost of gallbladder cancer treatment in India comes to be around INR 4,00,000 to INR 10,00,000. 

We hope that all your questions regarding gallbladder cancer treatment have been answered through this article.

If you want to get more information and treatment of gallbladder cancer, then immediately contact a Surgical Oncologist.

We only aim to give you information through the article and do not recommend medication or treatment in any way. Only a doctor can give you the best advice and correct treatment plan.


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