February is Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month.
Gallbladder Cancer– when normal cells in the gallbladder grow uncontrollably forming a tumor that can be cancerous or benign.
The gallbladder is a small organ located under the liver that stores bile. The gallbladder is made up of 3 main layers of tissue. The mucosa which is the innermost layer covers the wall, the muscularis or the middle layer made up of smooth muscle and the serosa or the outer layer. Primary gallbladder cancer begins in the inner layer and spreads to the outer layer. Gallbladder cancer is usually not found in its earlier stages.
Signs & Symptoms
- Abdominal Pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- A lump in the abdomen
There is no known way to prevent gallbladder cancer although maintaining a healthy weight may help lower the risk.
Bile Duct Cancer– when normal cells in the bile duct change and grow uncontrollably and form a tumor that can be cancerous or benign.
The bile duct is a tube that connects the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine. It allows bile to flow into the small intestine.
Types of Bile Duct Cancer:
Extrahepatic- the part of the bile duct that is outside of the liver. Cancer usually begins in this part of the bile duct.
Intraheptic- 5%to 10% of bile duct cancers occur in the part of the bile duct located inside the liver
Cancer can occur anywhere in the bile duct.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Urine may become a dark color
- Bowel movements may become pale
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain (Early bile duct cancer does not cause pain but a person may experience pain if the cancer has spread)
There is no proven way to completely prevent this disease. However there are ways to lower the risk such as avoiding contact with hazardous chemicals, avoiding alcohol abuse and drinking only purified water and foods if traveling to parts of the world where liver flukes are common.
Also if you haven’t already please read these previous posts!