Gallbladder Cancer

Gallbladder cancer occurs when healthy cells in the gallbladder change and grow uncontrollably, forming a mass called a tumor. A tumor can be cancerous or benign. A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor means the tumor will not spread. This section is about primary gallbladder cancer. Primary gallbladder cancer is cancer that starts in the gallbladder, as opposed to cancer that begins somewhere else in the body and spreads to the gallbladder.

About the gallbladder

The gallbladder is a pear-shaped organ located just under the liver. The gallbladder stores bile, a fluid made by the liver that helps to digest fats. Bile is released from the gallbladder through a tube, called the common bile duct, as food is broken down in the stomach and intestines.

The gallbladder’s wall is made up of three main layers of tissue

  • the mucosa, which is the innermost layer and covers the wall of the gallbladder

  • the muscularis, the middle layer of smooth muscle

  • the serosa, the outer layer

Primary gallbladder cancer begins in the inner layer and spreads into the outer layers as it grows.

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