The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ located under the liver, behind the lower right ribs. The main function of the gallbladder is to concentrate and store bile made by the liver. Bile is a fluid that helps to digest fats found in food, and it can be released into the small intestine by either the gallbladder or the liver. Because the liver also performs this function, the gallbladder can be removed with surgery without affecting a person’s health.
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 11,980 people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer of the gallbladder and large bile ducts in 2020. The rate of death from this type of cancer has been decreasing in recent decades. However, because the symptoms of gallbladder cancer do not usually appear until the disease has advanced, approximately 80 percent of gallbladder cancers are not found until the cancer has begun to spread.
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