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Gallbladder cancer

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Signs and symptoms of gallbladder cancer

A sign is something that can be observed and recognized by a doctor or healthcare professional (for example, a rash). A symptom is something that only the person experiencing it can feel and know (for example, pain or tiredness). Gallbladder cancer may not cause any signs or symptoms in its early stages because the gallbladder is located deep inside the abdomen. Most symptoms appear in the later stages of the disease, once the tumour has grown into surrounding tissues and organs. Most gallbladder cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage. However, some early gallbladder cancers are found by chance when a person has surgery to remove gallstones.

The signs and symptoms of gallbladder cancer can also be caused by other health conditions. It is important to have any unusual symptoms checked by a doctor.

Signs and symptoms of gallbladder cancer are:

  • abdominal pain
    • Pain that doesn’t go away – usually occurs in the upper-right part (quadrant) of the abdomen.
  • nausea and vomiting
  • fever
  • jaundicejaundiceA condition in which the skin and whites of the eyes become yellow and urine is dark yellow.
    • Jaundice occurs when the cancer blocks the bile duct and stops the flow of bile from the gallbladder into the small intestine. Bile builds up in the blood and tissues of the body.
  • itching
    • Jaundice can cause itchiness of the skin.
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • abdominal bloating or swelling
    • The gallbladder can become swollen and enlarged because of the tumour or a buildup of bile. Sometimes the doctor can feel an enlarged gallbladder during a physical examination.


Brock Taraba Brock has been cancer free for over a decade, thanks to the support we received from the Canadian Cancer Society.

Read Brock's story

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