Hard to diagnose Gallbladder Cancer

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My mum was rushed into hospital 3 months ago. She was jaundiced with stomach pain and this was the first time cancer was mentioned. They thought it was liver cancer. She had a biopsy and they told her there was no cancer there. Great - we thought. Then it was another blow, we think you’ve got bowel cancer but again she had cameras and no cancer found. Next a ct scan and this was when her  gallbladder was mentioned and spots on her lungs. Again they said they thought it was an inflammation of the gallbladder and it just needs to be removed. This week (3 months later) after a 2nd ct scan my mum has had the diagnosis that she has cancer of the gallbladder that has spread to her lungs. She’s 66 I can’t believe it’s taken 3 months to get this diagnosis in which time she could be having some treatment. They’ve said it can’t be cured but after a biopsy they will tell her what options she has. We’re devastated but also angry that my mum has been treated this way. Is gallbladder cancer so difficult to see or diagnose? Has anyone had a similar experience? Just not sure what to expect next really. Any advice how I can best help my mum would be great. She’s struggling to eat or keep anything down and also can’t go to the toilet as she’s so constipated. I feel it’s so cruel what she’s been through recently and just want to help anyway I can.

  • Good evening Chri5, so sorry to be reading this post, my mum went through a similar where they could not find out what was causing the problems and had scans and biopsies done on her liver and bowel and they came back clear. After more scans test and x-rays they found out that its was her gall bladder, apparently, its can be difficult to see parts of the gall bladder with scans as we asked the same question as why it took so long to diagnose and had a meeting with her consultant. We were also told it could not be operated on because of the liver and other organs around that area and they could try chemo. So hopefully they will offer chemo or radiotherapy if its possible to do radiotherapy in that area, this might help stop the cancer from spreading any further. My mum had trouble with her appetite so she was given liquid food supplements like Ensure, Fortisips, and other companies, maybe they could fit a feeding tube to help get the supplements into her body. Bless her with the constipation as she should be on a laxative from the Dr/consultant a.s.a.p as i have endured it quite a few times during my own cancer journey. I think the best you can do is to keep her pain-free and ask for these supplements on prescription along with the laxative as it will make her feel a lot more comfortable until you hear what her options are, I'm sorry your mum has been treated like this but would like to wish you all the very best for the future, fingers crossed for you, take care.

                                                                                                                       Chris x

    Its sometimes not easy but its worth it ! 

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  • Thank you for the reply it’s reassuring in a way that Its not incompetence and seems that unfortunately it’s a tricky one to find. She’s having the food replacement sachets and laxatives but she’s going back to see if there’s something different the doc can give her. She managed to go yesterday but it was painful but a huge relief for her. I wish you well on your own journey thanks again for your reply. Take care x

  • Sorry to hear about your mum. My mum had the same diagnosis in April, and yes, it's really hard to find. It's one of the rarest forms of cancer and it gets to the late stages because there are very few symptoms along the way. Fortunately my mum's diagnosis was quick but unfortunately there is no treatment for my mum as it's too advanced and too aggressive. The initial loss of appetite, the constipation and the back and forth with the laxatives has subsided and mum now eats smaller portions and sticks to eating 3 times a day as normal. So hopefully your mum will be the same soon. My mum is now coping well and staying well and after the initial shock of the diagnosis, the depression, anger and tears she has came to terms with it and is much more positive and active. She been over to see her family in Ireland, she having days out and she going to her craft group where she is receiving positive support and everyone thinks she looking and doing great. Having that positive mindset has really changed her. She does get tired quickly but she knows not to overdo things and takes a rest very now and then. So I hoping that your mum has a similar experience and that she stays as well as she can, despite the cancer.

  • Hello Chri5! I hope your mother is having it easier with her bowel function. My father has the same diagnosis, gallbladder carcinoma and it was indeed a whole adventure on its own to find out about what was going on. It is called a hidden cancer by what I have read, a very tricky one to find and quite rare. I also find it cruel that they have to go through with the whole array of symptoms and sometimes I feel inadequate to help, which really gets me down. This forum is helpful, in the way that we know we are not alone in this journey, either for ourselves or for our precious ones. Sending you best wishes for your mum's therapy!

  • sorry that to hear about your mum.. since my mum just had the same diagnosis.. we are all feel so depressed and I think we need to face it and keep positive. I think its the best way to our mum and whole family.. may I know your mum did do any treatment? chemotherapy?thanks and send all the best wishes to everyone!!

  • Hi so sorry I’ve only just seen your reply. My mum is doing incredibly well. She’s just about to have her 7th chemo session and received the news that the nodules in her lungs have both shrunk slightly so the chemo seems to be having a positive effect. Like your mum she is being incredibly positive and feels so much better. She’s eating now and putting weight back on. I’m under no illusion that long term I’m not sure if the outcome will be any different (she was told she had 6-9 months) but for now it’s a little win and that’s all we can ask. She also gets tired but on the days she is well enough she gets out and about so thankfully she is still able to enjoy herself. I hope your mum is still managing to get out too take care x

  • So sorry I have only just seen your reply. It is difficult knowing how best to support our precious loved ones. My mum is doing very well at the moment (thankfully) and the chemo seems to be having a positive effect with few side effects just tiredness really. Your right when you say how the forums on here help. I hope your dad is getting the help needed. Best wishes to you both x