Gallbladder cancer often undetected

Rare disease more common in women than men

Author: Rachel McNeill, Anchor/Medical Expert, rmcneill@kprc.com
Published On: Nov 27 2012 09:30:21 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 27 2012 11:00:29 PM CST
HOUSTON -

Gallbladder cancer is rare, affecting about 7,000 Americans a year.

The disease is often discovered at a late stage, making for a poor prognosis.

The gallbladder stores bile and is tucked under the liver. Dr. Rachna Shroff, a gastrointestinal medical oncologist at UT MD Anderson, told KPRC Local 2 the gull bladder's hidden location means the cancer can often grow undetected.

"I always refer to gallbladder cancer as the great masquerader. About 50 percent of gallbladder cancers are found incidentally through laproscopic removal of your gallbladder," said Shroff.

Symptoms can include abdominal pain, fever, nausea or jaundice.

"Prognosis (of gall bladder cancer) is not as good because it likes to spread to the liver, the lungs and the abdominal cavity," said Dr. Shroff.

There is no known cause, but there are risk factors. The disease is more common in women than men. Risk increases with age and it's most common in those who've had gall stones in the past.

Dr. Shroff said that a diet high in fat and not as rich in fruits and vegetables can lead to chronic inflammation of the gall bladder and gall stones.

She also told Local 2 that the average survival rate for advanced stage gall bladder cancer is just under a year.