February is Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer Awareness Month. Although rare, these cancers affect thousands of people and their families worldwide every year.
Learn the signs and symptoms associated with these serious illnesses and find out what steps you can take to reduce your risk and live a healthier life.
Things that can make you more likely to get gallbladder and bile duct cancer:
● Inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis)
● Having an unhealthy diet
● Older. The average age of diagnosis is 72 years
● Viral hepatitis
● Drink a lot of alcohol
Signs and symptoms of gallbladder and bile duct cancer:
● Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
● Intense itching of the skin
● White stools
● Abdominal pain on the right side, just below the ribs
● Lose weight without trying
● Night sweats
● Dark urine
There are different types of treatment for patients with gallbladder and bile duct cancer.
Surgery is the main treatment for cancers of the gallbladder and bile ducts. But unfortunately most of the time, by the time it is diagnosed in two-thirds of cases, it is inoperable. When the patient is not suitable for surgery, chemotherapy or rarely radiotherapy is used in the treatment of these cancers.
Taking these steps helps maintain good health and can reduce the risk of gallbladder and bile duct cancer, as well as many other types of cancer:
● Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
● Stay physically active and limit the time you spend sitting or lying down
● Follow a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limits or avoids red and processed meats, sugary drinks, and highly processed foods
● It is best not to drink alcohol. If you drink, do not drink more than one drink per day for women or 2 per day for men
● Get vaccinated against the hepatitis B virus (HBV) to prevent infection with this virus and the cirrhosis it can cause.
● Take precautions to avoid blood-borne or sexually transmitted infections such as HBV and other viruses (such as the hepatitis C virus) to help prevent cirrhosis.
● Treat hepatitis (such as B and C) to help prevent cirrhosis.
● Stop (or don’t start) smoking.
● Avoid exposure to radon or other radioactive chemicals
Gallbladder friendly foods
For a healthy gallbladder, include the following foods in your diet:
● citrus fruits
● dark leafy greens
● fish and shellfish
● low-fat dairy products
A healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables is the best way to improve and protect your gallbladder health. Fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients and fiber, the latter of which are essential for a healthy gallbladder.
(The author is Consultant Surgical Oncologist, Yashoda Hospitals)
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Posted: Thursday, February 24, 2022, 11:03 a.m. IST