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Primary gallbladder cancer arises in the connective tissue present between the different layers of the gallbladder wall. From here the cancer spreads to the gallbladder, the liver and then other parts of the body. The risk factors enlisted below have been shown to increase susceptibility to gallbladder cancer.
Gallstones (or cholelithiasis) is a condition in which stone-like deposits of either cholesterol or bilirubin collect in the gallbladder. Many causes of gallstones have been indicated; these include diabetes, liver cirrhosis, rapid weight loss induced by following a very low-calorie diet also causes gallstones, chronic hemolytic anemia etc. In general women are twice more prone to gallstones than men (menopausal women even more). The direct connection between gallstones and gallbladder cancer cannot be yet laid down. However, exposure to hepatocarcinogens along with a gallstones-inducing diet made more than 50% test animals develop gallbladder cancer. Even in humans, around 70 to 90% patients suffering from gallbladder cancer have been detected with the presence of gallstones as well.
Formation of gallstones in the gallbladder can lead to a painful condition called cholecystitis. Cholecystitis is marked by severe inflammation of the gallbladder. If neglected, the inflammation can progress to severe necrosis. This in turn can lead to a secondary infection by the normal gut microflora, such as Escherichia coli and Bacteroides. The other end of the spectrum is if the inflammation remains a low-level chronic type of inflammation. This condition is known as chronic cholecystitis and is characterized by a fibrotic and calcified gallbladder.