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The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ attached to the underside of your liver in the upper part of your abdomen. The gallbladder aids in the digestive process and concentrates bile produced in the liver. Bile aids digestion by breaking down fats in the food you eat.


Approximately one adult in every ten has gallstones. When the amounts of bile and other fluids inside the gallbladder become unbalanced, some of the chemicals solidify and form gallstones.

Although the exact cause is unknown, gallstones have been associated with:

  • obesity
  • gender (more women than men)
  • multiple pregnancies
  • rapid weigh loss
  • ageing


If the gallstones stay deep within the gallbladder they may not cause any symptoms. However, if the gallstones move and block ducts, bile can back up causing symptoms and leading to infections and diseases of the gallbladder, liver and pancreas. Symptoms typically occur after a meal and may include:

  • abdominal bloating
  • severe pain in the upper abdomen
  • pain extending into the back
  • nausea or vomiting

Gallbladder Cancer

Gallbladder cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the gallbladder.

Gallbladder cancer is a rare disease in which malignant (cancer) cells are found in the tissues of the gallbladder.

The wall of the gallbladder has 3 main layers of tissue.

  • mucosal (innermost) layer.
  • muscularis (middle, muscle) layer.
  • serosal (outer) layer.

Between these layers is supporting connective tissue. Primary gallbladder cancer starts in the innermost layer and spreads through the outer layers as it grows. Possible signs of gallbladder cancer include jaundice, pain, and fever.