The gallbladder is located just beneath your liver and its main function is to store the bile. Gallbladder polyps are small growths that arise in the inner lining of the gallbladder. They are fairly common and are usually benign but big polyps can become cancerous. It is better to get it checked, because if they are detected early, the prognosis is very good.
Symptoms of gallbladder polyps
- Bloating of the abdomen
- Mild fever
- Weight loss
What can put someone at risk for gallbladder polyps?
- History of gallstones
- Gallbladder disease
- Constant, recurring gallbladder problems
- Chronic gallbladder infection
- Sex – Women are more at risk
- Age – Risk increases with age
There are several steps for diagnosing gall bladder cancer. They include:-
Blood tests to evaluate liver function.
Imaging tests like ultrasound, CT scans and an MRI.
Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP)
Laparoscopy to gauge the extent of cancerous growth
Stages of gallbladder cancer
Stage I – confined to the inner layers of the gallbladder.
Stage II – invades the outer layer of the gallbladder.
Stage III – invades nearby organs (liver, small intestine, stomach) and nearby lymph nodes.
Stage IV – has spread to distant areas of the body.
Surgery is usually the recommended course of action to treat gallbladder cancer, especially in the early stages. This surgery is called a cholecystectomy and is done to remove the gallbladder.
If the cancer has spread to the liver, the gallbladder and affected area of liver may have to be surgically removed.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy or a combination of both may be used before a cholecystectomy to minimize the size of the tumour and after surgery to eradicate any remaining cancerous cells.
A multidisciplinary team is needed to help you through gallbladder polyp cancer treatment. This could include an oncologist, a gastroenterologist, a radiation oncologist, a hepatologist among others. They will be your support through the treatment and you need to make sure that you have a good team who is experienced and who you are comfortable with.