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- Sex: female
- Having gallstones or chronic inflammation of the gallbladder, including calcification of the gallbladder (porcelain gallbladder)
- Ethnicity: Native American and Hispanics have a higher incidence of gallbladder cancer, perhaps because they also have a higher incidence of gallstones.
- Typhoid fever or chronic salmonella infection
- Physical abnormalities of the gallbladder and ducts, such as choledochal cysts or polyps of the gallbladder
- Exposure to some chemicals, such as azotoluene and nitrosamines, found in metal processing and rubber production
- Abdominal pain
- Pain in the upper back (called referred pain)
- Jaundice (yellowing of the “whites” of the eyes, the skin, under the tongue)
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Liver and spleen enlargement
- Increased abdominal girth
- The disease often shows no early symptoms.
- The symptoms often mimic those of other gallbladder conditions (such as gallstones).
- Other organs in the abdomen hide the gallbladder.
- Blood tests—testing to check levels of bilirubin (part of the bile) and liver enzymes
- Ultrasound —a test that uses sound waves to examine internal organs, in this case, the gallbladder and bile ducts. The radiologist will examine the gallbladder with the ultrasound probe and may see stones inside; stones often can mask the presence of cancer.
- CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the body, in this case, the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, and surrounding tissue. The CT scan can help determine if the gallbladder is calcified or surrounded by a lining of calcium. This condition is called a porcelain gallbladder and can be caused by the growth of cancer cells. The CT scan is also helpful to determine if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or liver (the two most common places for gallbladder cancer to spread).
- Cholangiography—an invasive test that uses x-rays and a large needle inserted into the liver to examine the gallbladder and bile ducts. This can be done to collect cells from the bile ducts to help diagnosis cancer.
- Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)—a test that combines x-rays and an endoscope, which is a long, flexible, lighted tube inserted down the throat. This is done to examine the duodenum (first part of the small intestine), bile ducts, and pancreatic ducts. It can also be used to collect cells to help diagnose cancer.
- MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body
Combined Modality Therapy (CMT)
American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org
National Cancer Institute http://www.nci.nih.gov
The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology http://www.cag-acg.org
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca
The Johns Hopkins University website. Available at: http://www.jhu.edu .
The Merck Manual of Medical Information . Simon and Schuster, Inc.; 2000.
National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/ .
- Reviewer: Mohei Abouzied, MD
- Review Date: 12/2013 -
- Update Date: 01/13/2014 -
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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