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Gallbladder cancer

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From MayoClinic.com

Gallbladder cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen, just beneath your liver. Its main function is to store bile - a fluid that helps digest fats and that carries cholesterol and toxins from your body. Bile is produced in your liver and travels to your gallbladder and small intestine through thin tubes collectively referred to as the bile ducts.

When the cancer is caught early, removing your gallbladder or part of the bile duct may eliminate all the cancerous cells. In advanced cases, treatment won't cure the disease but can help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of gallbladder cancer
Gallbladder cancer rarely produces signs and symptoms in the early stages. When symptoms do appear, they often resemble those of other, more common, gallbladder problems, such as gallstones or infection. These signs and symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain. Many people with gallbladder cancer have some abdominal pain — usually in the upper-right part of the abdomen.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice). Jaundice results from high blood levels of bilirubin — the residue from the breakdown of red blood cells. Normally, bilirubin is metabolized in your liver and eliminated through the bile ducts. But a blocked bile duct can cause bilirubin to accumulate in the blood. The built-up pigments may turn your skin and the whites of your eyes yellow and your urine dark brown. Because bilirubin isn't being eliminated through the bile, your stools may also turn pale yellow or white.

  • Loss of appetite or weight. 

Signs and symptoms of bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma)
Jaundice is the most common initial sign of bile duct cancer. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Enlarged gallbladder. Though uncommon, a blocked bile duct can cause bile to accumulate in your gallbladder, making it larger than normal. Although your gallbladder is hidden behind other organs in your abdomen, your doctor may be able to feel this enlargement during a physical exam.

  • Intense itching (pruritus). The bile pigment that leads to jaundice can cause significant itching.

  • Brown, tea- or coffee-colored urine.

  • Loss of appetite and weight.

  • White or clay-colored stools.

  • Fever.

Keep in mind that all of these signs and symptoms can result from conditions other than cancer. Your doctor can help determine their exact cause.

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