Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month

Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month
5 Feb 2024
8 mins
Table Of Content
Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month

    Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month is held in February. Unlike other types of cancers, like breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer, there is an overall lack of knowledge about gallbladder and bile duct cancer among the general population. As a result, the aim of Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month is to keep people aware of the conditions, symptoms, causes, and risk factors and to raise awareness about it.


     A Small Organ With Big Responsibilities


    Gallbladder and bile duct cancers are rare types. The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ in the abdomen that sits beneath the liver. It collects and stores bile, a fluid produced by the liver to facilitate fat digestion. The bile ducts are small tubes that transport bile fluid from the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine.


    Cancer develops in the gallbladder, usually in the innermost layers, and gradually spreads to the surrounding tissues. 9 out of 10 gallbladder cancer cases account for adenocarcinomas. Adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that occurs in gland-like cells that line internal or external surfaces of the body, including the digestive tract. 


    Cholangiocarcinoma is another name for bile duct cancer. It can be intrahepatic or extrahepatic forms, cancers forming in the ducts inside and outside the liver. 


    Prevalence Of The Condition


    Gallbladder cancer is the world's 23rd most common cancer. It is the 23rd most common type of cancer in males and the 20th most common in females. In 2020, there were over 115,000 new cases of gallbladder cancer. India has a high incidence of gallbladder cancer (GBC) and accounts for approximately 10% of the global GBC burden. Especially within India, the incidence rate is higher in Northern India, where 9/100000 population are affected, and less common in Southern parts.


    Symptoms Of Gallbladder And Bile Duct Cancer


    Both types of cancers share common symptoms

    • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
    • Abdominal pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
    • Fever
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Bloating
    • Lumps in the abdomen
    • Unintended weight loss
    • Dark urine and clay-colored stools.


    Everyone should learn about gallbladder and bile duct cancer. Any unusual sign should be reported to a doctor as soon as possible.

    Causes And Risk Factors


    While the exact causes of gallbladder cancer are unknown, mutations in the gallbladder cells are known to be the most popular cause. Apart from this, a history of gallstones is considered the leading risk factor. These tiny crystals, composed of hardened bile and cholesterol, can form within the gallbladder and obstruct bile passage. This can cause discomfort, inflammation, and jaundice. Despite the fact that this condition increases the risk of developing gallbladder cancer, it is significant to remember that gallstones are common, but gallbladder cancer is not.


    Other common risk factors include,


    • Age
    • Gender
    • Gallbladder diseases and infections
    • Inflammation in the bile duct

    Early Detection Saves Lives


    Although gallbladder cancer is treatable if detected early, it is extremely difficult to detect before it spreads to other parts of the body. Gallbladder cancer can be difficult to detect in its early stages because symptoms do not usually develop until the disease has spread. Because the gallbladder is located deep within the body, it is difficult to detect early gallbladder cancer.


    Doctors usually start with liver function tests to look for high levels of bilirubin. Imaging tests create images of your internal organs using X-rays, magnetic fields, or sound waves. Ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRI scans are just imaging tests used to diagnose gallbladder cancer.


    Physicians use a staging system to describe the extent of cancer. Gallbladder cancer is staged using the TNM system. The TNM system is built around three key chunks of information:


    T indicates how far the primary tumor has grown into the gallbladder's primary wall.

    N shows whether or not the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

    M indicates whether or not the cancer has spread to other organs. The liver, lining of the abdominal cavity, and lungs are the most common sites of gallbladder cancer spread.

    Medical Management 


    Treatment for cancer varies according to the type and stage of the disease but typically includes a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The primary treatment for gallbladder and bile duct cancers is surgery. Unfortunately, in two-thirds of cases, it is inoperable by the time of diagnosis. Healthy food and a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables are the most effective ways to enhance and protect your gallbladder's health. Fruits and vegetables that are high in nutrient and fiber content are essential for gallbladder health.

    Health Is The Key To Happiness


    Understand what steps you can take to decrease your risk and make your gallbladder happy on this gallbladder and bile duct cancer awareness month, 2024


    • Drink plenty of water
    • Load up with fruits and veggies
    • Cut down on fried foods
    • Avoid crash diet
    • Keep moving
    • Maintain healthy weight



    1Q. Can I get bile duct cancer if I have hepatitis?

    Yes, studies have shown that patients who have a hepatitis infection, especially viral hepatitis (Hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus), can increase the risk of cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer).


    2Q. Are there any foods I need to avoid during gallbladder or bile duct cancer?

    Individuals are recommended to avoid meat or salted or preserved food to avoid the risk of biliary tract cancer. Consult your doctor or nutritionist to get a proper diet plan for gallbladder or bile duct cancer.


    3Q. Can Smoking or Drinking Alcohol Increase Bile Duct cancer?

    Yes, smoking and heavy drinking can increase the risk of bile duct cancer in the patients. This is because chronic alcohol can damage the liver and lead to cirrhosis, which in turn increases the risk of bile duct cancer.


    4Q. Can I live after removing my gallbladder or bile duct?

    Yes, you can survive after removing the gallbladder or bile duct. Your doctor may remove your gallbladder or bile duct if it is needed, and it does affect your quality of life. Your liver will still make bile to digest your food, but it can directly drop into the digestive system after the surgery. 




    Due to its low popularity, gallbladder and bile duct cancer are often unnoticed in its early stage, which leads to complications in treating it. A proper diet and treatment plan can aid in managing gallbladder and bile duct cancer in an effective way. On this gallbladder and bile duct cancer awareness month, let's spread awareness about this unpopular cancer and make everyone familiar with the symptoms, prevention, and treatment options for this silent killer and protect our loved ones.


    Empower Your Gallbladder, Take a Small Step for a Big Impact!

    Written by
    Ishwarya RMedical Content Writer
    AboutIshwary R is a Medical Content Writer at MrMed. She completed her PG from the University of Madras, Chennai. She did her final year project in CSIR-CLRI, Adyar, entitled Studies on production of Biosurfactant by bacillus subtilis using Leather industry bioproduct. She did her offline internship and learned clinical Laboratory skills in Billroth hospital and her online internship in SS Healthcare. She strengthened her skills in research, writing, editing, and proofreading medical content, blogs, and scientific articles.
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