Gall bladder cancer

Gall bladder cancer is rare, with around 670 new cases in the UK every year. It's very rare in people under 50 and is most often seen in people over 70. It's more common in women than men.

Most cancers of the gall bladder are a type of cancer called adenocarcinoma. They start in the lining of the gall bladder.

Symptoms of gall bladder cancer

  • Early gall bladder cancer often causes no symptoms and is usually discovered unexpectedly when someone has surgery to remove gallstones. About 1 in 5 gall bladder cancers are found in this way.
  • Most tumours are only discovered at an advanced stage. They can cause a variety of symptoms including sickness, high temperatures, weight loss and pain in the tummy (abdomen).
  • If the cancer blocks the bile duct it may stop the flow of bile from the gall bladder into the small bowel. This causes bile to flow back into the blood and body tissues, and leads to the skin and whites of the eyes becoming yellow (known as jaundice).
  • The urine also becomes a dark yellow colour and stools (bowel motions) are pale. The skin may become itchy.
  • These symptoms may be caused by other problems such as gallstones or an infection of the gall bladder, but it's important to get them checked by your doctor.

*Information provided by Macmillan cancer support

At The Christie, the gastrointestinal: upper and hepatobilliary team in clinical oncology treat gall bladder cancers.

Patient information

Our booklet on the specialist upper gastrointestinal (GI) nursing service at The Christie might be relevant to you.

Last updated: May 2023