Gallbladder Cancer

At a Glance

  • Risk factors for gallbladder cancer include being female or being Native American.
  • Symptoms of gallbladder cancer include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes), pain above the stomach, fever, nausea and vomiting, bloating, lumps in the abdomen.
  • Two-thirds of gall bladder cancer cases are survivable.

About Gall Bladder Cancer

Gallbladder cancer is a cancer that forms in the tissues of gall bladder, a pear-shaped organ below the liver that collects and stores bile, a fluid made by the liver to digest fat. Gallbladder cancer begins in the innermost layer of tissue and spreads through the outer layers as it grows.

Estimated new cases and deaths from gallbladder (and other biliary) cancer in the United States in 2015 are 10,910 and 3,700 respectively.

The Gallbladder

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ that lies just under the liver in the upper abdomen. The gallbladder stores bile, a fluid made by the liver to digest fat. When food is being broken down in the stomach and intestines, bile is released from the gallbladder through a tube called the common bile duct, which connects the gallbladder and liver to the first part of the small intestine.

The wall of the gallbladder has 3 main layers of tissue; mucosal, muscularis and serosal. Between these layers is supporting connective tissue. Primary gallbladder cancer starts in the innermost layer and spreads through the outer layers as it grows.

Risk Factors

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Risk factors for gallbladder cancer include the following:

  • Being female.
  • Being Native American.

Symptoms

Possible symptoms of gallbladder cancer include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).
  • Pain above the stomach.
  • Fever.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Bloating.
  • Lumps in the abdomen.

Learn more about diagnosing gallbladder cancer and the treatment options.