Gallbladder Cancer

Cancer develops in the gallbladder, a small organ below the liver.

The gallbladder's size and location make it easier for cancer to grow undetected.

There may be no symptoms. If symptoms occur, they may include abdominal pain, bloating and fever.

Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Types of Gallbladder Cancer

The type of gallbladder cancer depends on the kind of cell where it began. Several varieties of cells in the gallbladder develop different gallbladder cancer types. Pathologists (doctors who specialize in diagnosing disease) can identify the type of gallbladder cancer by looking at tumour cells under a microscope.

Gallbladder Adenocarcinoma

Most gallbladder cancer — about 90 percent — is adenocarcinoma. This growth begins in the glandlike cells that line the insides of the gallbladder. There are three types of adenocarcinoma of the gallbladder:

  • nonpapillary adenocarcinoma
  • papillary adenocarcinoma
  • mucinous adenocarcinoma
  • Nonpapillary adenocarcinoma is the most common.

    Papillary adenocarcinoma is rare and less likely to spread to the liver and nearby lymph nodes. People with this type of gallbladder cancer have a better outlook than most people with a gallbladder adenocarcinoma.

    Mucinous adenocarcinoma is even rarer. It begins in the cells that produce mucin, the primary ingredient of mucus.

    Other Gallbladder Types

    Other types of gallbladder cancer are quite rare. They include:

  • adenosquamous carcinoma
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • carcinosarcoma
  • These begin in different types of cells in the gallbladder. They are often more aggressive than adenocarcinoma of the gallbladder. 

  • Gallbladder Cancer Signs & Symptoms

    Gallbladder cancer doesn’t usually cause any symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage when it has spread to other organs and tissues. Occasionally, symptoms appear at an early stage, when treatment is more effective.

    The following signs and symptoms may be caused by gallbladder cancer or another condition. Check with your doctor if you experience any of them.

    Common signs and symptoms of gallbladder cancer include:

  • Jaundice
  • Weight Loss
  • Fever
  • Loss of Appetite 
  • Bloating or Pain in the Belly
  • Fatigue
  • Lumps in the Belly

Gallbladder Cancer Causes & Risk Factors

It is not clear what causes gallbladder cancer. Certain factors make a person more likely to develop the disease. Gallbladder cancer usually affects older people (age 70 and above). Women are also much more likely than men to develop the disease. Gallbladder cancer is more common among Mexican Americans, southwestern Native Americans, and people from certain South American countries, particularly Chile.

Some other risk factors for gallbladder cancer include:

Gallstones and Inflammation

Gallstones are hard, rock-like formations similar to kidney stones. Gallstones are made of cholesterol and other substances in the gallbladder. Up to 90 per cent of people diagnosed with gallbladder cancer also have gallstones and longstanding inflammation of the gallbladder. These conditions are more common in women. That’s why women are more likely to develop gallbladder cancer. It is important to remember that gallstones are quite common, and most people with gallstones never develop gallbladder cancer. 

Porcelain Gallbladder

A porcelain gallbladder is a condition in which the gallbladder becomes covered in calcium deposits, resembling porcelain ceramic. This condition can occur when the gallbladder becomes inflamed. It is thought that excessive gallstones bring on porcelain gallbladder, but the exact cause is not clear. 

Gallbladder Polyps

Gallbladder polyps are growths that extend from the gallbladder’s mucous membrane. Some polyps are precancerous and can progress to cancer. Our surgeons will usually remove polyps that are 1 centimeter or larger, appear to be growing, or have a broad base.


People who have been repeatedly infected with salmonella (the bacteria that causes typhoid) are six times more likely to develop gallbladder cancer.


Many people who develop gallbladder cancer are overweight or obese. They often have a high-carbohydrate or low-fibre diet. 

Family History

A family history of gallbladder cancer seems to increase a person’s chances of developing the disease, although the risk is still low.


There's no sure way to prevent lung cancer, but you can reduce your risk if you:

  • Don't smoke. If you've never smoked, don't start. Talk to your children about not smoking so that they can understand how to avoid this major risk factor for lung cancer. Begin conversations about the dangers of smoking with your children early so that they know how to react to peer pressure.
  • Stop smoking. Stop smoking now. Quitting reduces your risk of lung cancer, even if you've smoked for years. Talk to your doctor about strategies and stop-smoking aids that can help you quit. Options include nicotine replacement products, medications and support groups.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke. If you live or work with a smoker, urge him or her to quit. At the very least, ask him or her to smoke outside. Avoid areas where people smoke, such as bars and restaurants, and seek out smoke-free options.
  • Test your home for radon. Have the radon levels in your home checked, especially if you live in an area where radon is known to be a problem? High radon levels can be remedied to make your home safer. For information on radon testing, contact your local department of public health or a local chapter of the American Lung Association.
  • Avoid carcinogens at work. Take precautions to protect yourself from exposure to toxic chemicals at work. Follow your employer's precautions. For instance, if you're given a face mask for protection, always wear it. Ask your doctor what more you can do to protect yourself at work. Your risk of lung damage from workplace carcinogens increases if you smoke.
  • Eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables. Choose a healthy diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables. Food sources of vitamins and nutrients are best. Avoid taking large doses of vitamins in pill form, as they may be harmful. For instance, researchers hoping to reduce the risk of lung cancer in heavy smokers gave them beta carotene supplements. Results showed that supplements actually increased the risk of cancer in smokers.
  • Exercise most days of the week. If you don't exercise regularly, start out slowly. Try to exercise most days of the week.
2021-11-15 10:01:57