Gallbladder polyps are common growths that form in the lining of the gallbladder. While most of them are harmless, studies have shown a link between gallbladder polyps and cancer. This article will discuss when you should be concerned about gallbladder polyps, as well as how gallbladder cancer is diagnosed and treated.
What Are Gallbladder Polyps?
Gallbladder polyps are usually benign growths that form in the gallbladder. The exact cause of their development remains unknown, but it is believed to stem from a combination of factors such as age, genetics, lifestyle, and diet.
You may be at a higher risk of developing polyps in your gallbladder if you have any of these health issues:
- Familial polyposis
- Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
- Gardner syndrome
- Hepatitis B
Can A Polyp Be Cancerous?
While most polyps are benign, a polyp can become malignant and cancerous. A cancerous polyp usually grows over time, while benign polyps remain the same. Polyps larger than 1cm are at a higher risk of becoming cancerous. If a scan has identified polyps in your gallbladder, your doctor may monitor it to ensure it does not grow in size. If your polyps continue to grow, your doctor may recommend removing your gallbladder as a precaution.
What Percentage Of Polyps Are Cancerous?
It is estimated that about 1% of all gallbladder polyps are cancerous, with the majority being benign. Although this may seem like a small number, the risk of developing cancer still exists, and it is crucial to be aware of any warning signs.
Should Gallbladder Polyps Be Removed?
The decision to remove a gallbladder polyp depends on the size and number of polyps found. Usually, small benign polyps that are not causing any discomfort can be left alone. However, some benign polyps may block a bile duct and cause inflammation and abdominal pain. In these cases, your doctor will recommend removal.
On top of that, if your polyps are growing in size, they are usually a sign of cancerous polyps and should be removed. However, the only way to remove polyps in the gallbladder is to remove the entire gallbladder through a cholecystectomy (gallbladder surgery).
What Are Gallbladder Cancer Symptoms?
Gallbladder cancer often goes undetected as there may not be any visible symptoms until it is in an advanced stage.
However, some signs to watch out for include:
- abdominal pain
- nausea and vomiting,
- loss of appetite
- yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice),
- weight loss
- dark urine
How Is Gallbladder Cancer Diagnosed And Treated?
If any of these symptoms are present, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor may order further tests such as an ultrasound, CT scan or endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) to confirm the diagnosis.
Once the cancer has been identified, treatment will depend on its stage and severity. Options include surgery to remove part or all of the gallbladder and surrounding tissue, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In some cases, a combination of treatments may be recommended for optimal results.
What Are Steps To Reduce The Risk Of Developing Gallbladder Cancer If You Have Polyps?
If you have been diagnosed with gallbladder polyps, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the risk of developing cancer.
Firstly, keeping your weight in check, maintaining a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise and eating a balanced diet is important. Additionally, if you smoke or drink alcohol heavily, now is the time to quit, as these habits can increase your risk for gallbladder cancer.
Lastly, be sure to see your doctor regularly so they can monitor any changes or developments in your condition.
Gallbladder polyps are common growths in the gallbladder, but they can also increase the risk of developing gallbladder cancer. It is important to stay alert for any symptoms or changes in your health that could indicate a more serious problem.
If you have been diagnosed with gallbladder polyps, take steps to reduce the risk of gallbladder cancer, such as maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. See a doctor regularly so they can monitor any changes to the size of the polyps.
At G&L Surgical, we provide professional advice on gallbladder disease and its treatment. If you suspect that you have a condition and are unsure of the next step forward, contact our team at G&L Surgical for assistance.