Gallbladder Cancer Symptoms, Signs, Risks, Diagnosis and Treatment

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Today I'll be talking to you about gallbladder cancer. I'll discuss gallbladder cancer symptoms, signs, risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment. Gallbladder cancer is quite rare in the United States. And unfortunately, by the time it's diagnosed, it's often already spread already too far gone.


Funky Dineva's Father's Gallbladder Cancer

Now, anyone who knows me knows that one of my favorite YouTubers is Funky Dineva. Now, when my sister first got me to watching Funky Dineva, I thought it was just for comic relief because he wears these wigs and these bright lipsticks, and he's forever going off on reality stars and people in pop culture. But once I started watching his videos, I was like, "Wait. Wait. This is not all jokes," because Funky Dineva is highly intelligent, intuitive, and introspective.

And if you mess around and get distracted by all of his shenanigans, if you mess around and laugh too much, you may miss some of the most insightful analyses of human behavior. There are a lot of YouTubers who try to do what Funky Dineva does. But with his combination of humor, timing, intellect, and transparency, it's impossible to replicate Funky Dineva.

At any rate, Funky Dineva recently announced that his father passed away from gallbladder cancer. Ever since he made that announcement, I've been getting questions. 'What is gallbladder cancer?  Should I be getting screened for gallbladder cancer? What are the risk factors?' So I decided to do this brief overview of gallbladder cancer to answer some of those questions.


What is the Gallbladder?

The gallbladder is the pear-shaped organ located under the liver, right in the right upper part of your abdomen. It helps with digestion. The gallbladder stores bile juices which helps to digest fats and to digest foods. Now, many of you have heard of gallstones, or cholelithiasis, or even inflammation of the gallbladder, cholecystitis. But, the gallbladder cancer, again, is quite rare in the United States. There are only about 5,000 cases in the U.S. each year, but worldwide gallbladder cancer has a higher prevalence, especially in South America, Chile. It also has a high prevalence in India, particularly the New Delhi area, and there's some prevalence in Pakistan and in Japan as well.





Gallbladder Cancer Risk Factors?

In the United States, the ethnic groups at risk tend to be Hispanics, Native Americans, and native Alaskans. Caucasians, actually, are at higher risk for gallbladder cancer than African-Americans. Other risk factors include obesity. Women are more likely to get gallbladder cancer than men. Having high blood sugar or diabetes can also be a risk factor. Also, having chronic inflammation of the gallbladder, people who have chronic large painful stones are at higher risk. A porcelain gallbladder is another risk factor. That's when there's a calcification of the gallbladder, also some chronic infections like with salmonella or helicobacter.


Gallbladder Cancer Signs and Symptoms

As far as the symptoms and the signs of gallbladder cancer, you can have no symptoms at all or the symptoms can be rather nonspecific, like indigestion, nausea, vomiting, and or fever. You can get pain in that right upper side of your abdomen. You can also get Jaundice, when the whites of the eyes turn yellow or other skin turns a yellow or an 'orangy' color. You can also get dark urine or pale stools. But again, they are not always symptoms. Sometimes you can be asymptomatic until the gallbladder cancer has already too far gone.

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Gallbladder Cancer Diagnosis

You typically start with an ultrasound of the gallbladder. So the same way that pregnant ladies get ultrasounds or sonograms of their bellies, you would get an ultrasound of your gallbladder right in that abdomen, the right upper side of it. You could also get some other imaging, like a CAT scan, a CT scan, or an MRI.

If it is believed that the gallbladder cancer is contained still within the gallbladder, then you would be offered a surgical procedure, a removal or resection of the gallbladder. The surgeon may also remove some surrounding tissues and some lymph nodes just to see if there are any signs of spread of the gallbladder cancer.

If, however, it looks like the cancer has already spread when the imaging has been done, then you may be offered chemotherapy or radiation. The chemotherapy and radiation, if cancer has spread especially, are typically not curative, but they can be palliative, meaning they can help to decrease symptoms, make a patient more comfortable, or even prolong life for some years.



These are the gallbladder cancer symptoms, signs risk factors, diagnosis, and treatment. I hope that answers any questions you may have. If you have had any kind of experience with gallbladder disease or cancer or if you still have any questions or comments, please comment below. I want to have some dialogue about this.

I wish Funky Dineva and his family the absolute best. You're in my prayers. And for anyone who's dealing with this or any major life health issues, I'm wishing you well. Be sure to live your healthiest, happiest life.


Dr. Frita - Frita McRae Fisher, M.D.
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  1. JEFF ASARE on February 25, 2020 at 2:06 pm

    my mother is experiencing the same gallbladder cancer in Africa.Her stomach has been bloated,loss of weight and appetite,vomiting.please is there any remedy to reduce these symptoms.

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