The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ, located on the right side of the abdomen beneath the liver, that stores bile and digestive fluids produced by the liver. The gallbladder’s primary job is to help the body break down digestive fats. Each time you eat, your gallbladder releases certain amounts of bile into your small intestine where the bile is mixed with partially digested food. Bile, which is water mixed with bile salts, helps break down large amounts of fat and cholesterol.
Gallbladder cancer is uncommon, and it’s often difficult to diagnose. When the cancer is detected early, the likelihood of recovery is good. However, if the cancer is detected at a late stage, the likelihood of recovery can be poor. Here are warning signs of gallbladder cancer to watch for.
While jaundice is a common risk factor for newborn babies, the condition can also occur in gallbladder cancer patients. Jaundice, an issue that causes the skin and whites of the eyes to develop a yellowish tint, happens whenever there’s too much (or the body can’t properly process) bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellow-colored waste chemical found in red blood cells, and bilirubin buildup occurs whenever the liver can’t get rid of the red blood cells after they’ve broken down.
In addition to the yellowish tinge that develops on the skin and whites of the eyes, additional symptoms of jaundice include pale stools, dark urine, weight loss, itchiness, vomiting, abdominal pain, fatigue, and insomnia. When complications like these happen, they usually stem from an underlying problem such as gallbladder cancer. To diagnose the condition, a doctor may use several different blood tests to check bilirubin levels. A doctor may also conduct a liver biopsy or order an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, a procedure that combines X-ray imaging and endoscopy.
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