There are several gallbladder cancer risk factors, which can potentially make an individual more susceptible to this form of cancer. However, it is important to understand that a risk factor just means that a person is at higher risk – not that he or she is certain to develop the condition. Even the leading risk factor for gallbladder cancer, a history of gallstones, doesn’t necessarily speak to an individual’s likelihood of developing this condition, as gallstones are quite common while gallbladder cancer remains relatively rare.
With that said, it can be helpful to understand the risk factors for gallbladder cancer so that if you are at risk for the condition, you can inform your physician. In addition to gallstones, other gallbladder cancer risk factors include:
- Gender, as women are more susceptible to the condition than men
- Age, as individuals over the age of 70 are at higher risk
- Ethnicity, with gallbladder cancer prevalence higher among Mexican Americans and Native Americans
- Exposure to a variety of industrial and environmental toxins
- A history of gallbladder polyps
- Abnormalities of the bile ducts or bile duct cysts
One of the reasons that it is important to be mindful of these risk factors is that gallbladder cancer often goes undetected until advanced stages because this type of cancer rarely causes symptoms in the outset. And, when symptoms do present, they have a tendency to be mild at first, or resemble symptoms of other illnesses, making them easy to overlook.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, our Gastrointestinal Oncology Program has extensive experience working with patients of all ages who have been diagnosed with gallbladder cancer. As a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, we provide a variety of comprehensive gallbladder treatments, ranging from the removal of the gallbladder to radiation, chemotherapy and supportive care, as well as promising clinical trials, depending on your condition.