Carcinoma Gallbladder: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment

Carcinoma of the gallbladder is a not so uncommon but aggressive form of cancer that originates in the tissues of the gallbladder, a small organ located beneath the liver. In this article, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for carcinoma of the gallbladder, shedding light on this challenging disease.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of gallbladder carcinoma is not yet fully understood. However, certain factors increase the risk of developing this condition. These include:

  • Gallstones: Presence of long standing gallstones, particularly large stones or those causing chronic inflammation, is a significant risk factor for gallbladder carcinoma.
  • Chronic inflammation: Long-standing inflammation of the gallbladder, often due to conditions like gall stones, cholecystitis or primary sclerosing cholangitis, can increase the risk.
  • Gender and age: Women over the age of 45 are at a higher risk of developing gallbladder carcinoma. In India, amongst people living in the gangetic valley in northern & Eastern India have shown a high propensity to develop Gall Bladder cancers, mostly in those with longstanding Gallstones (cholelithiasis).
  • Ethnicity: Native Americans, Hispanics, and certain ethnic groups from South Asia have a higher incidence of gallbladder carcinoma.

Signs and Symptoms

Carcinoma of the gallbladder is often asymptomatic in its early stages, making it challenging to diagnose. However, as the disease progresses, the following symptoms may arise:

  • Abdominal pain: Persistent pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen is a common symptom, often radiating to the back or right shoulder.
  • Jaundice: Yellowing of the skin and eyes due to the blockage of the bile duct by the tumor.
  • Unexplained weight loss: Rapid and unexplained weight loss can occur as the cancer progresses.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Digestive disturbances may occur due to impaired bile flow.
  • Fatigue and weakness: Generalized weakness and fatigue may be experienced.


Diagnosing gallbladder carcinoma involves various tests and procedures, including:

  • Imaging tests: Ultrasound, CT scan, MRI or FDG-PET-CT stancan help visualize the gallbladder and detect any abnormalities or tumors.
  • Blood tests: Specific blood markers, such as CA 19-9 and carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), may be elevated in cases of gallbladder carcinoma.
  • Biopsy: Tissue samples may be obtained through minimally invasive techniques like ERCP (endoscopic) ultrasound-guided biopsy or during surgery. These samples are then examined under a microscope to confirm the presence of cancer cells.

Treatment Options

The treatment of gallbladder carcinoma depends on the stage of the disease, overall health of the patient, and other individual factors. Treatment options may include:

  • Surgery: Surgical removal of the gallbladder, known as cholecystectomy, is the primary treatment for early-stage gallbladder carcinoma. Additional procedures, such as lymph node dissection or liver resection, may be performed as necessary if the cancer has spread.
  • Chemotherapy: Anticancer (chemotherapy) drugs may be administered before surgery to shrink tumors or after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
  • Radiation therapy: High-energy X-rays are used to target and kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be used before or after surgery or in cases where surgery is not possible.
  • Targeted therapy: Targeted drugs may be used to specifically target cancer cells, inhibiting their growth and spread.
  • Palliative care: In advanced cases where curative treatment is not possible, palliative care aims to alleviate symptoms, improve quality of life, and provide emotional support.


Carcinoma of the gallbladder is a complex and aggressive cancer that requires prompt diagnosis and a multidisciplinary treatment approach. Raising awareness about the risk factors, (like removal of gallbladder with longstanding gallstones)signs, and symptoms of this disease is crucial to ensure early detection and intervention. By advancing our understanding of gallbladder carcinoma and optimizing treatment strategies, we can strive to improve outcomes and provide better care for individuals affected by this challenging condition.

Remember, if you have any concerns or notice any unusual symptoms related to your gallbladder health, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for appropriate evaluation and guidance.

Dr.Sudarsan De
Department of Radiation Oncology
Book an Appointment