February: Gallbladder and Bile Duct Awareness Month
Located underneath the liver, the gallbladder is responsible for the concentration and storage of bile which helps to digest the fats in food as they pass through the intestines. Bile is either released from the liver directly into ducts that carry it to the small intestine, or is stored in the gallbladder and released later. When food is consumed (especially foods high in fat), the gallbladder contracts and releases bile through the cystic duct. The cystic duct of the gallbladder joins with the common bile duct from the liver which then converges with the pancreatic duct before emptying into the small intestine.
Gallbladder cancer is a relatively uncommon gastrointestinal cancer and not usually diagnosed until the later stages of the disease. Often hiding behind the presence and/or diagnosis of gallstones or gallbladder disease, the cancer can grow unchecked until symptoms become problematic and perceptible. But most often, having these symptoms does not result in a cancer diagnosis as many of the signs and symptoms that are associated with gallbladder cancer have commonalities with other diseases such as viral hepatitis or gallstones. Still, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, visit your healthcare professional immediately.
Help spread awareness of this cancer this month by sharing this infographic on social media.