3 Early Warning Signs of Gallbladder Cancer

May 7th 2016

When caught early, gallbladder cancer is treatable with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments. In many cases, the cancerous tumors can be completely removed. When treatment is complete, patients are typically required to undergo regular testing procedures such as computed tomography, or CT, scans and blood tests every six months. If symptoms recur, additional treatment methods may be recommended.

Abdominal Symptoms

Abdominal symptoms are common in gallbladder cancer, as the organ tends to enlarge when the cancer progresses. Abdominal symptoms may mimic other less serious conditions, which can lead to delayed diagnosis. Common abdominal symptoms of gallbladder cancer include upper right abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating and black, tarry stools.

Appetite Loss and Weight Loss

While appetite loss and weight loss can occur for a variety of reasons, individuals with early-stage gallbladder cancer often lose weight rapidly without explanation. During this time, appetite loss and nausea are also common.

Yellow Skin, Itching

Individuals with gallbladder cancer may also experience symptoms of yellow skin and eyes, also referred to as jaundice, due to growing tumors that block the bile ducts. The buildup of bile can also cause severe skin itching all over the body. Jaundice is one of the more common symptoms of the condition, with almost half of all diagnosed individuals presenting with symptoms at the time of diagnosis.


Gallbladder cancer develops in the gallbladder, an organ in the body that sits directly beneath the liver. The gallbladder is essential in the digestive process, as it concentrates the liver bile that aids in digesting fats. In most cases, gallbladder cancer does not cause symptoms until the condition has spread, so early diagnosis can be challenging. Additionally, as of 2015, there are no early screening or blood tests that can accurately diagnose gallbladder cancer in its early stages. However, when the first noticeable symptoms develop, seeking immediate medical attention can ensure prompt detection and treatment.

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