Gallbladder Cancer Information
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What Is Gallbladder Cancer?
Gallbladder cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the gallbladder, a small organ in the shape of pear that is located under the liver, behind the lower right ribs. The main function of the gallbladder is to concentrate and store bile made by the liver. Bile is a fluid that helps to digest fats found in food, and it can be released into the small intestine by either the gallbladder or the liver. Because the liver can also perform this function, the gallbladder can be removed without affecting a person’s health.
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 6,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with gallbladder cancer this year. The rate of death from this type of cancer has been decreasing in recent decades. However, because the symptoms of gallbladder cancer do not usually appear until the disease is advanced, approximately 80 percent of gallbladder cancers are not found until the cancer has started to spread.
Types of Gallbladder Cancer
The two types of gallbladder cancer that occur most frequently are:
- Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of gallbladder cancer, and accounts for 90 percent of cases. Adenocarcinomas are a specific type of cancer that begin in the gland-like cells that line organs of the digestive tract.
- Papillary adenocarcinoma is a special subtype of adenocarcinoma that has a better prognosis, or outlook, compared with other types of gallbladder cancers. It is much less likely to spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs like the liver.
Other much less common types of gallbladder cancers are adenosquamous carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, small cell carcinomas and sarcomas.
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