Gallbladder cancer occurs when malignant (cancer) cells grow in your gallbladder, a pear-shaped organ located under your liver in your upper abdomen.
The outside of your gallbladder is made up of four layers of tissue:
- The inner layer (mucosal layer).
- The muscle layer.
- The connective tissue layer.
- The outer layer (serosal layer).
Gallbladder cancer begins in the mucosal layer and moves outward. It is often found by chance after gallbladder surgery or it’s not discovered until it has progressed to a late stage.
- Doctors don’t know exactly what causes gallbladder cancer. They do know that, like all cancer, an error, known as a mutation, in a person’s DNA causes uncontrolled rapid growth of cells.
- As the number of cells quickly increases, a mass, or tumor, forms. If not treated, these cells eventually spread into nearby tissue and to distant parts of the body.
- There are risk factors that increase the odds for gallbladder cancer. Most of them are related to long-term gallbladder inflammation.
- Having these risk factors doesn’t mean you’ll get cancer. It just means your chances of getting it may be higher than someone without the risk.
- Abdominal pain, usually in the upper right portion of your abdomen
- Jaundice, which is yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes due to high levels of bilirubin from obstruction of your bile ducts
- lumpy abdomen, which occurs when your gallbladder enlarges due to blocked bile ducts or the cancer spreads to your liver and lumps are created in your upper right abdomen
- Nausea and vomiting
- weight loss
- Abdominal bloating
- dark urine