Gallbladder cancer does not usually show symptoms in its early stages. This is because patients and doctors have difficulty in detecting them due to its position inside the body. Nevertheless, there are several signs and symptoms of gallbladder cancer that can help you determine if you have the disease. However, having any of the symptoms does not automatically presume that one has gallbladder cancer. (1)
These following are the signs and symptoms of gallbladder cancer:
Abdominal (Tummy) Pain
A huge percentage of people with gallbladder cancer will always experience abdominal pain. This pain is felt in the upper right part of the belly. Nevertheless, people may still experience abdominal pain due to other reasons or conditions. But where the pain is unusual and persistent; it may be gallbladder disease.
Nausea And Vomiting
Those with gallbladder cancer usually feel nauseated and experience vomiting as a symptom.
Lumps In The Belly
The gallbladder can swell to larger than normal because of the blockage of the ducts with cancer. It can also spread to nearby parts of the liver. Health professionals may feel this lump on the right side of the abdomen.
Feeling Or Being Sick
It comes in the advanced stages of gallbladder cancer, and it’s quite common in people with individuals who are diagnosed with gallbladder cancer at some stage of their disease. This can be controlled easily by giving the patient anti-sickness drugs. (2)
This is yellowing of the skin and the white part of the eyes. This results from the blockage of the bile ducts when cancer grows larger. This hinders the drainage of bile from the liver into the intestines. This can lead to bilirubin (a chemical that is found in bile that gives it the yellow color) to build up in the blood and settle in different parts of the body.
The accumulated bile salt (bilirubin) makes a person’s skin and the white part of the eyes to look yellow and the skin to itch (itching pruritis). It also leads to darkening of urine and pale colored stools (change in bowel movements). Jaundice is more common in people with gallbladder cancer and is a sign that the cancer is in its advanced stages. However, having jaundice does not always mean that one has cancer but a viral infection of the kidney (hepatitis).
Unexplained Loss Of Appetite
This comes as a result of cancer metastasizing deep into the bloodstream and invading the lymph nodes and nearby tissue. Experts also refer to it as anorexia. This an advanced stage symptom of gallbladder cancer.
Unexplained Weight Loss
Drastic and significant weight loss especially when one is not dieting is a sign and symptom of gallbladder disease. This is a symptom that is common to all types of cancers in their later stages. (3)
Frequent fever and headaches are a sign that cancer has invaded the brain cells. Though fever and headaches may also be as a result of other brain infections and stress when it is severe and persistent, it may be a symptom of gallbladder cancer.
Unexplained and unusual fatigue may be as a result of the cancer cells invading the joints and nearby tissues. Though people do fatigue, and it is common, but when it becomes too loud and persistent, it may be as a result of gallbladder cancer.
Unexplained Coughs And Breathing Difficulties
This comes as a result of cancer metastasizing to the lungs and therefore hindering the breathing process. This is a late symptom of gallbladder cancer in its advanced stages.