Gallbladder carcinoma is a rare but highly malignant disease that is predominantly identified at a very late stage. The clinical presentation, comprised of nonspecific signs such as abdominal pain in the right upper quadrant, weight loss, jaundice, and fever, is often insidious. Imaging studies and biopsy are needed to make the diagnosis and determine the stage.
With estimated incidence rates of 3 per 100,000 individuals in the United States, gallbladder carcinoma is rarely encountered in clinical practice . Still, it encompasses up to 90% of all neoplastic processes arising from the biliary tree  . Risk factors are increasing age, female gender, certain ethnic (native American ancestry) and geographic predispositions (southeast Asia has a significantly higher incidence rate compared to the rest of the world), the presence of gallstones and chronic inflammation, as well as parasitic infections, congenital abnormalities of the biliary tract, and genetics     . The 5-year survival rate of patients suffering from gallbladder carcinoma from the time of diagnosis is less than 5% , and the poor overall prognosis occurs due to two reasons. Firstly, the gallbladder lacks a serosal layer at the site where it is in contact with the liver, thus allowing rapid dissemination and metastatic spread of the tumor . And secondly, the clinical presentation is often nonspecific and mimics other more common pathologies of the biliary tree (cholelithiasis, cholecystitis, other abdominal tumors, etc.)      . Right upper quadrant abdominal pain, fever, jaundice, nausea, vomiting, pruritus, anorexia, and weight loss are the most important complaints in the literature when it comes to gallbladder carcinoma     .
Because of the very low survival rate of patients with gallbladder carcinoma, physicians must raise clinical suspicion toward a malignant disorder in the presence of nonspecific abdominal complaints. A detailed patient history and a complete physical examination, which will assess the course and progression of symptoms, but also their potential origin (through abdominal inspection and palpation), are vital steps in the workup. Laboratory tests are of limited benefit in the raising suspicion toward gallbladder carcinoma  . Serum tumor markers, however, mainly carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA 19-9), are frequently elevated in this patient group, suggesting their important role in the workup  . Imaging studies are the cornerstone in making the diagnosis. Various techniques are recommended, including computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasonography (particularly high-resolution), positron emission tomography (fludeoxyglucose (FDG)-PET and PET-CT), endoscopic ultrasonography (EUS), and magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography (MRCP)    . A large space-occupying mass in the gallbladder that is frequently infiltrating the liver is a typical finding, while asymmetric and extensive gallbladder wall thickening is also an important sign used to discriminate this tumor from other etiologies  . Once the initial diagnosis is made, often through high-resolution US, CT, or MRI (all used to assess nodal or metastatic spread as well), EUS is vital in determining the exact stage of the tumor, as it provides the ability to perform a biopsy (through fine-needle aspiration) and subsequent histopathological examination  .