This page covers tests that are often used to help diagnose and stage gallbladder cancer.
Depending on the symptoms you have, you may also be asked to undergo other tests and investigations.
“You know, once you’ve stood up to cancer, everything else feels like a pretty easy fight.”
David H. Koch
Once the doctor is sure of an abnormality, the following tests are done to determine further details about the type of cancer present.
These tests are used to supplement blood tests such as the complete blood count (CBC), liver function test (LFT) and certain tumour marker tests.
An abdominal ultrasound is a painless procedure that utilizes sound waves to make images of the internal body organs. Ultrasounds are often used to detect if suspicious area is a fluid-filled sac (cyst) or a solid mass which might be cancerous. They also pinpoint the position of a tumour and this guides the physician to the exact spot to insert a needle during biopsy.
During an abdominal ultrasound
First, you may be asked to undress the upper part of your body (down to your waist) and lie on your back on a bed or examination table. Ask for a robe or blanket to cover yourself while you wait for the specialist to arrive.
The specialist may instruct you to lie on your side, or change sides during the scan. He or she may also ask you to raise your arms over your head.
Next, the specialist will cover a small instrument (called a transducer) with a special gel, and move it around your abdomen and the surrounding area. If the abdominal tissue is dense, the specialist might use some pressure to get a clearer image.
The ultrasound should take about 10-15 minutes. If you experience any pain, be sure to inform your doctor.
An endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) is used to examine the lining of the gallbladder from the inside. During the procedure, your doctor will insert a thin, flexible tube into your mouth or rectum, in order to examine your gallbladder, stomach and surrounding structures for any tissues that could be cancerous. You can expect some minor pain or discomfort while undergoing the procedure. It is important that you choose a doctor and clinical team that you are comfortable with to perform your procedure.
Prior to the procedure, you will need to ensure that your stomach is empty. Any residue may obscure the view of the gallbladder and surrounding areas during the exam. In order to ensure that the stomach is empty, your doctor may ask you to:
It is important that you follow the instructions given by your doctor in order to ensure a successful procedure. Be sure to inform your doctor prior to the procedure if
During an EUS
Biopsy involves the removal of a sample of gallbladder cells or tissues for laboratory testing and is the only definitive method to diagnose gallbladder cancer. It is a way to evaluate a suspicious area in your gallbladder to determine whether it is cancerous.
Typically, biopsies will be done along with the endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). It is important that you choose a doctor and clinical team that you are comfortable with to perform your procedure.
The fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy is generally used for gallbladder cancer. This is a quick, simple test in which a thin needle is used to remove tissue or fluid for examination under a microscope.
For a few days after the biopsy, your abdominal area may feel sore and bruised. Don’t hesitate to talk to your clinical team about pain medication if you feel you might need it. The pain and bruising will generally subside in a couple of weeks. If it persists, please contact your doctor immediately.
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