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Gallbladder cancer is a rare form of digestive cancer that makes up less than 1% of annual cancer cases. Find the answers to some frequently asked questions about gallbladder cancer.
Gallbladder stones can increase your risk of developing gallbladder cancer, however, they aren’t a cause of cancer in themselves.
In the early stages of gallbladder cancer, 60 - 80% of patients have a 5-year survival rate, since the cancer is still contained in the gallbladder. Once cancer has spread beyond the gallbladder, however, survival rates are lower.
While there is not a specific blood test to detect gallbladder cancer, there is a test that can determine how much bilirubin is in your blood. Gallbladder problems, including cancer, can raise levels of bilirubin.
In more advanced stages, gallbladder cancer can metastasize (spread) to the liver, lymph nodes, small intestine or stomach. It can spread to other areas of the body as well, but it’s most likely to spread to nearby organs first.
Gallbladder cancer causes ongoing abdominal pain which may worsen as the cancer spreads, but there are treatments to help manage pain.
The most effective treatment for gallbladder cancer is usually surgery. Removing the gallbladder can help prevent cancer from spreading, but it is often useful to combine surgery with other treatments like radiation therapy to help prevent cancer from returning.
Since gallbladder cancer is often detected at more advanced stages, it can be difficult to know exactly how quickly it grows. The speed of growth also varies from person to person, as someone with a weaker immune system might find that their cancer spreads faster than someone with a strong immune system.
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