By: Dr. Thomas Incledon
My skin is turning yellow. Do I have gallbladder cancer?
Jaundice is a key symptom of gallbladder, so if you are experiencing yellowing of the skin and eyes, you should see a doctor for testing to determine if the cause is gallbladder cancer. Jaundice occurs when the bile duct is blocked preventing bile to flow freely through your body. Bile is critical to proper digestion and absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D and K, in the body. It also helps filter various waste products, including bilirubin, from the body. When bilirubin levels increase, it deposits in the skin and eyes, which is what makes you appear yellow.
Unfortunately, once your skin and eyes are yellowing, it is likely that the gall bladder cancer has progressed because it takes a lot of bilirubin buildup to change the pigment of your tissues. It is common, however, for this to be the sign that leads to diagnosis.
Gallbladder cancer is difficult to detect with many people experiencing zero signs or symptoms. Last year in the United States, there were less than 20,000 cases diagnosed, so it is a rare cancer and doctors and researchers are unsure of the cause. It can occur in men and women, though it is three to four times more common in women. And, anyone ages 19-60 can be diagnosed.
There are a few commonalities in people who develop gallbladder cancer: obesity and gallstones. “There may be a correlation between excess fat and gallbladder cancer progressing in women because they typically have more body fat and we know that obesity is a contributing factor with gallbladder cancer,” explains Dr. Tom Incledon, founder and CEO of Causenta. “But, we don’t really understand if there are hormonal connections at this point.”
People who are diagnosed with gallbladder cancer have almost always had gallstones in the past. “The tough thing is that gallstones are very common and gallbladder cancer is not,” says Incledon. “So, again, we know there is some sort of correlation there, but no one is quite sure what it is.”
Other common symptoms of gallbladder cancer include:
- Abdominal pain
- Itchiness of the skin
The reason gallbladder cancer is typically discovered later in development is because these symptoms are not overt and obvious. The best way to detect gallbladder cancer early is to have regular check-ups with your doctor. A standard chemistry blood panel, which is part of an annual exam, would show elevated bilirubin levels. That key marker of gallbladder cancer would be of concern to your physician and would lead to further scans and tests. At that point, if cancer is found, it would likely be at an earlier stage giving you a better chance for long-term survival and health.
If you are interested in learning more about gallbladder cancer and personalized treatment options at Causenta, schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation today.
About the Author
Dr. Thomas is the founder and CEO of Causenta Wellness, and the Causenta Cancer Treatment Center in Arizona. From working with NFL, MLB, MMA, World Class athletes and even the White House, his reputation of personalized medicine and cutting-edge technologies has put him on the map, caring for some of the most powerful people in the world, making him one of the most sought-after healthcare professionals of all time.