Zeroing In On Rare Type of Gallbladder Cancer

Gallbladder cancer type diagnosed with fine needle aspiration

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Gallbladder cancer is not a cancer you hear a lot about, being diagnosed in just less than 10,000 Americans every year. And one particular type of gallbladder cancer occurs in one percent of these patients - which is about 100 individuals.

To diagnose squamous cell carcinoma of the gallbladder, researchers have found that a particular test called a fine-needle aspiration works best.

This test, which takes out a tiny piece of tissue with a needle, is less traumatic for patients and is effective in detecting this type of gallbladder cancer.

"Ask why you're having medical tests."

Gallbladder cancer never has been easy to diagnose because the organ is tucked so deeply inside the gut. There aren't many early warning signs with this cancer either, and those that eventually do occur could be linked to lots of things other than cancer.

So by the time it is diagnosed, gallbladder cancer may have spread (metastasized) to other organs, especially the liver.

For this study, researchers in India analyzed and compared the diagnosis of squamous cell gallbladder cancer with a more common type of the cancer.

The team looked at nine cases of squamous cell gallbladder cancer in which fine-needle aspiration was used to diagnose the disease. The clinicians all relied on ultrasound for locating the tumor.

When doctors looked at the X-ray images of people who had lower stomach problems, 8 of the 9 patients showed signs of the cancer spreading; 4 had liver metastasis.

After the cells were examined under a microscope, the doctors were able to diagnose the disease.

The authors wrote, "Ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration is a useful, minimally invasive investigation in the preoperative diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma of the gallbladder and can be helpful in deciding the management and prognostication of the patient."

This study was published in the August issue of the Journal of Gastrointestinal Cancer.

No financial information was available.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 9, 2012
Last Updated:
August 10, 2012