Pancreatic Tumors

Gall Bladder Cancer

How To Identify Gall Bladder Cancer

Gall Bladder Cancer

The gall bladder is a small pouch that stores and concentrates bile. Its main function is to break the fat during digestion in the small intestine. It is generally understood that chronic inflammation is the major cause of gallbladder cancer. When stones are present in the gall bladder, it releases bile more slowly. This means that gallbladder tissue is exposed to the bile longer than usual. This may lead to irritation and inflammation. Researchers feel that this constant exposure to these cancer-causing substances in the bile could be the reason for gall bladder cancer. Because of the inflammation in the bladder the juices from the pancreas are made to flow backward into the gallbladder and bile ducts. It is suspected that this backward flow of pancreatic juices may irritate the cells lining the gallbladder and bile ducts in a way that causes irritation and inflammation, stimulating their growth and perhaps make them more sensitive to carcinogens.

It is known that cancers can be caused by DNA mutations. This is inherited from parents. Genes that promote cell division are called oncogenes. Genes that slow down cell division or cause cells to die at a supposed time are called tumor suppressor genes.

Gall Bladder Cancer

Oncogene and tumor suppressor gene mutations related to gallbladder cancers are developed during a personís life time and not before birth. Every time a cell divides into 2 new cells, it must duplicate its DNA. When this process is not perfect and there are copying errors that is when the gall bladder cancer occurs.

Fortunately, cells have repair enzymes that proofread the DNA, but some errors may slip past them also. In some people the repair enzymes itself may be faulty. Changes in the tumor suppressor gene, develops gallbladder cancer. Another important gene is k-ras. It becomes abnormal in many gallbladder cancers. Solid deposits of cholesterol or calcium salts that form in the gall bladder cause stones.

What are the symptoms?

There are no symptoms initially. Only when stones occur and you get it removed by surgery, you come to know about cancer. Mostly it is known this way. The symptoms occur at a late stage. Abdominal pain, high temperature and jaundice are some of the symptoms of gall bladder cancer. Itching occurs in the advanced stage of cancer. Because the gallbladder is located deep inside the body it is very difficult to identify cancer in the early stages. Mostly gallbladder cancers are found only when the cancer has grown and spread enough to cause symptoms.

Gall bladder cancer can be detected through CT-scan, endoscopy, angiogram, MRI and laparoscopy. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy are the only treatment for cancer. Surgically the gall bladder and the surrounding tissues may be removed. Interestingly women are prone to this cancer more than men.

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