There are many reasons of having jaundice. On many occasions, jaundice is due to medical diseases like hepatitis requiring medicines only. Sometimes however, stones, strictures (narrowing of bile duct) or tumors, blocking the channels carrying bile, can cause them.
Many bile duct stones can be removed by Endoscopy without the need for any hospital stay or surgery. However, some patients will need surgery- conventional or Laparoscopic. The latter method obviously is more comfortable for the patients.
Tumors in the Gall Bladder, Bile duct, Pancreas and Liver can cause jaundice. Normally, people would be unhappy to hear that they have jaundice due to tumor in their abdomen. But one should appreciate that jaundice could be an early warning signal that can be helpful in diagnosing a tumor early. Then it would be beneficial if the patient reported to the Gastrosurgeon early since this could mean a possible cure for the patient.
Sadly, many patients do not pay attention to this symptom and waste their time with inadequate investigations and unscientific treatment. When they ultimately land up with the surgeon, the tumor is too advanced for treatment. It is important that patients detect and report their jaundiceearly so that these tumors can be picked up in the initial stage for treatment. Cure of these tumors are possible only if detected early.
Another important thing to remember is that endoscopy can also relieve jaundice due to tumors by the use of a stent. But it is wise to remember that it is only a temporary method to relieve jaundice and surgery is the only definitive treatment.
There has been a lot of progress in the treatment of these tumors. Surgery for the tumors in the pancreas by a procedure called Whipples operation- earlier thought to be a formidable operation- has become increasingly safer due to improved technique and technology. Liver tumors can now be removed safely with the improved understanding of liver anatomy and availability of better tools to cut liver. Even blood requirement has become rare for these procedures. However, these surgeries should be conducted in centers performing these surgeries routinely for better outcome.
To conclude, patients should be aware that jaundiceneeds to be evaluated early to identify which are amenable to medicines and which will be best served by endoscopy or surgery. It is especially important to pick up jaundice caused by tumors because their early surgery is the only way to cure them.