What Is Gallbladder Cancer?
Gallbladder cancer is a malignant tumor developing in gallbladder tissues but primary gallbladder cancer is very rare. Male and female ratio of gallbladder cancer is about 1:2, which means it is more common among women, especially for women who are over 60 years old. Its prognosis is poor and the five- year survival rate can only reach 3%.
Compared to lung cancer and gastric cancer, the incidence rate of gallbladder cancer is low, but in recent years it is rising. As its early symptoms are not obvious, early gallbladder cancer is not easy to diagnose, but the therapeutic effects for middle and advanced cancers are extremely poor and more than 80% of patients die of middle and advanced cancer within a year. However, if diagnosed earlier and received surgery timely, patient’s five-year survival rate can be more than 90%. Therefore, attention should be paid to screening of gallbladder cancer, so as to get early detection and early treatment.
What are the Causes of Gallbladder Cancer?
It is still not completely clear the real causes of gallbladder cancer, but the following factors are believed to increase the risk of developing it:
The female patient over 50 years old, with long course of chronic cholecystitis and with repeated recurrence.
Cholecystolithiasis (gallbladder stones). The risk of developing gallbladder cancer for patients with cholecystolithiasis is 38 times higher than that of people without gallbladder stones.
Calcification of gallbladder wall. It is more common in women over the age of 65. It is the final stage of chronic cholecystitis and its cancerization rate reaches as high as 22%.
The patient whose gallbladder polyps are 10 mm or larger, the cancerization rate can reach as high as 23%.
The incidence rate of gallbladder cancer may higher among people who like eating pickled products, bean curd preserved, fried foods, and chili. Besides, unhealthy habits such as smoking, alcohol drinking and high fat and high calorie diets may play a role in promoting the development of gallbladder cancer.
Women with early menarche age, late menopausal age, with many times of child-bearing have higher risk of developing gallbladder cancer, which may be related to the change of the level of endogenous estrogen, progesterone in their body.
Obesity in youth or overweight compared with the normal peers by 20%-30% can increase the risk of developing gallbladder cancer.
Symptoms of Gallbladder Cancer
Gastrointestinal symptoms: the vast majority of patients will suffer from indigestion, tired of greasy, belching, etc.
Right upper abdominal pain: right upper abdominal discomfort, followed by persistent secret pain or dull pain, sometimes accompanied by intense and intermittent pain, spreading to the right shoulder.
Mass in right upper abdomen.
Jaundice and skin itching: they often occur in advanced course, manifested as yellowish skin and mostly accompanied by itching which is difficult to relieve, especially will be intensified at night.
Fever and emaciation: about 25% of patients develop fever and advanced patients often are accompanied by emaciation and even dyscrasia.
Once above symptoms occur, you need to go to hospital timely for check and prevent the development of gallbladder cancer. The population at high risk should be checked regularly, getting early detection and early treatment, so as to effectively prolong life expectancy.
Diagnosis of Gallbladder Cancer
Ultrasonography: it can be done to show the size of gallbladder lesions, determining whether there is cancerization and observing whether there are obvious lymph node metastases and liver involvement.
CT scan: after ultrasound examination, the patient who is highly suspected with gallbladder cancer need to do an enhanced CT examination, which can display whether the tumor invades liver or spread to the related lymph nodes.
MRI: it can be used to judge whether there are liver involvement or MRI can be considered to be done when patients appear obstructive jaundice.
PET-CT: it can give a qualitative diagnosis for the occupying lesion of gallbladder and it helps determine whether there are lesions existing outside the gallbladder.
Laboratory examination: to check whether serum tumor markers increase or not, is helpful to do qualitative diagnosis of gallbladder cancer.
The staging of Gallbladder Cancer
Stage Ⅰ: cancer tissue is confined to mucosa, which means it belongs to primary cancer. Surgery can be done with good effect.
StageⅡ: Cancer tissue has invaded muscular layer. After surgery, the patient’s 5 year survival rate may reach 20%-30%.
Stage Ⅲ: cancer tissue has invaded the whole gallbladder wall. After surgery, the patient’s 5 year survival rate may reach 20%-30%.
Stage Ⅳ: cancer tissue has invaded the whole gallbladder wall and surrounding lymph nodes. Some patients in this stage are applicable to surgical removal, but overall treatment effect is not good. Small part of patients can live more than 5 years.
StageⅤ: Cancer tissue has directly invaded liver and other organs so it means the cancer cells have spread to whole body. Generally speaking, patient in this stage can hardly live more than one year.
There are few symptoms and no specificity in early gallbladder cancer, but early detection and early treatment is the key to increase survival rate. As mentioned above, active surgery has certain significance for improvement of survival rate. If you suspect yourself for developing gallbladder cancer and you cannot distinguish between normal and abnormal signs, you need to ask for help from doctor as soon as possible. If you are diagnosed with gallbladder cancer, immediate treatment should be done so as to prevent it getting worse.
Treatment of Gallbladder Cancer
1. simple cholecystectomy
2. extended cholecystectomy
3.partial resection of adjacent organs
Radiation therapy: targeting at locally residual or recurrent lesions, high-energy ray can kill cancer cells.
Chemotherapy: by orally taken or intravascular injection, agents can reach every part of body along with blood flow so as to play a role in fighting against cancer.
Targeted therapy: according to the site, design the corresponding treatments or drugs to kill tumor cells. Traditional Chinese Medicine Therapy
Combining pathological mechanism of gallbladder cancer with specific anticancer medicine plays a role in clearing heat and detoxifying as well as killing cancer cells. Chinese medicine therapy not only focuses on local treatment but also the conditioning of systemic function. Through orally taken and arterial infusion, Chinese medicine can reinforce the healthy qi and eliminate the pathogenic factors, tonify qi and nourish blood, harmonize spleen and stomach so as to improve patient’s immunity and also fight against cancer cells.