February is Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month. Learn about the risk factors and symptoms.
Gallbladder cancer is rare yet deadly. Most are found inadvertently during cholelithiasis examination; 1–2% have tumors. Dr. Vijay Kumar C Bada, Sr. Consultant Surgical Gastroenterology, HPB, Bariatric & Robotic Sciences, Clinical Director, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad, attributes GBC’s poor prognosis to the gallbladder’s anatomical position and vague symptoms, which lead to an advanced stage at diagnosis.
What are gallbladder and bile duct cancer symptoms?
Early invasive GBC patients are usually asymptomatic or have vague symptoms like cholelithiasis or cholecystitis. GBC preoperative diagnosis was 10–15% before ultrasonography and CT became widely available. A preoperative diagnosis is possible in 75–88% of instances with a proper index of suspicion and improved imaging. Polypoid masses or localized gallbladder wall thickening can indicate early tumors as small as 5 mm.
Pain is the main complaint of symptomatic individuals, followed by anorexia, nausea, and vomiting. Malaise, weight loss, and other symptoms of advanced GBC look more like cancer than biliary colic. Symptoms of acute cholecystitis are associated with early disease stage and better long-term outcomes. GBC patients may have obstructive jaundice from biliary tree invasion or metastatic illness.
Risk factors for gall bladder cancer:
Gallbladder stones: 70–80% of GB cancer patients have them. Gallstone sufferers have 0.5-3% cancer risk.
Primary cholerosing inflammation
Chronic infections: Salmonella, Helicobacter Congenital Biliary cysts
Preoperatively, intraoperatively, or postoperatively, GBC can be identified by examining the gallbladder specimen, usually extracted during cholecystectomy due to symptomatic cholelithiasis.
February is Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month, an uncommon but dangerous cancer. An examination for cholelithiasis commonly reveals 1-2% malignancies. The gallbladder’s anatomical position and ambiguous symptoms lead to advanced diagnosis and a dismal prognosis. Symptoms are frequently absent or ambiguous in early invasive GBC patients. Gallbladder stones, bladder polyps, primary cholerosing inflammation, persistent infections, and obesity increase GBC risk.