What Does the Gallbladder Do?

0

The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ found under the liver. It is made up of a combination of cholesterol, bile salts, and a yellow pigment called bilirubin.

After bile is produced by the liver, it flows into the gallbladder and is stored there. When you eat, the gallbladder then releases the bile into the bile duct. The bile flows from there into the upper part of the small intestine. Throughout the digestive process, bile helps to break down fat in food.

Gallbladder cancer is a form of biliary cancer, which occurs when there are malignancies in the gallbladder or bile ducts. Biliary cancers are relatively rare – approximately 10,000 cases in the United States are diagnosed per year – but most cases are not detected until the cancer has reached an advanced stage.

The primary risk factor for gallbladder cancer is gallstones. Gallstones are hardened deposits of digestive fluid in the gallbladder, and they are present in more than two-thirds of gallbladder cancer cases.

Gallbladder cancer is often asymptomatic in its early stages, which is why it can be hard to diagnose. Doctors usually find gallbladder cancer while checking for or removing gallstones. Typically, gallbladder cancer patients are between 50 and 70 years in age. There is also a higher incidence of gallbladder cancers in women and in Native American populations.

Although symptoms of gallbladder cancer don’t show symptoms early on, there are some signs to look out for. The main symptom is a constant pain in the upper part of the abdomen, radiating from there towards the back. Other signs include yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), dark yellow urine, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting and/or diarrhea, or general itchiness caused by blockage in the bile duct.

The earlier a gallbladder cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better chance there is of recovery.

Learn more about biliary cancers from the Pancreas and Biliary Tumor Center of Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

Comments Sort By Newest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blue Captcha Image
Refresh

*

Make An Appointment

For adults: 877-442-3324

Quick access: Appointments as soon as the next day for new adult patients

For children: 888-733-4662

All content in these blogs is provided by independent writers and does not represent the opinions or advice of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute or its partners.

Latest Tweets

Dana-Farber @danafarber
Statement from Dana-Farber on House Health Plan: https://t.co/z0yMKmAS3W
Dana-Farber @danafarber
Our Yawkey Center for Cancer Care features more than 500 works of art by artists like Andy Warhol. Take a tour:… https://t.co/fSYIuerZ5y
Dana-Farber @danafarber
For 17 girls & patients @ChildCancerCare, Dana-Farber’s annual Girls Weekend is an opportunity to relax & socialize… https://t.co/Jzh3th3TG0

Republish our posts on your blog

Interested in sharing one of our stories on your blog? Feel free to republish this content! We just ask that you credit Dana-Farber, link to the original article, and refrain from making edits that change the original context. Questions? Email the editors at insight_blog@dfci.harvard.edu.