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Gallbladder cancer
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Gallbladder cancer

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From MayoClinic.com 


Treatment for biliary tract cancers depends on the type and stage of cancer as well as on your age, overall health, feelings and personal preferences. Especially when cancer is advanced, choosing a treatment plan is a major decision, and it's important to take time to consider your choices.

You may also want to consider seeking a second opinion. This can provide additional information to help you feel more certain about the option you're considering.

When gallbladder or bile duct cancer is found early, the goal of treatment is to completely eliminate the cancer. Unfortunately, this often isn't possible and the focus may need to be changed to one of treating the signs and symptoms the cancer is causing or preventing the tumor from causing more harm. In some cases, an approach called palliative care may be best. Palliative care refers to treatment aimed not at removing or slowing the disease, but at helping relieve signs and symptoms and making you as comfortable as possible.

Gallbladder cancer

Surgical removal (resection) of the gallbladder usually offers the best hope for people with gallbladder cancer. If the tumor is very small and hasn't spread to the deeper layers of gallbladder tissue, your surgeon may perform a simple cholecystectomy, which removes only the gallbladder. Sometimes this may be done laparoscopically, using a camera and miniature instruments inserted through tiny incisions in your abdomen.

If the cancer is more advanced, your surgeon will likely perform what is known as an extended cholecystectomy — an operation in which some liver tissue and nearby lymph nodes are removed along with your gallbladder. Some doctors believe that this operation is a better treatment even for people with very small, localized tumors.

Once the cancer has spread beyond the walls of your gallbladder, it can no longer be completely removed with an operation. In that case, your treatment team will discuss other options with you. These may include external beam radiation — high-energy X-rays that come from a source outside your body — or palliative measures to help make you more comfortable.

Bile duct cancer

Surgery usually offers the best chance for people with bile duct cancer. But the type of operation you may have will vary, depending on the location of the cancer and how extensive it is.

For example, tumors that start within the liver (intrahepatic tumors) are often treated by removing the affected part of the liver. Tumors that develop where the hepatic duct leaves the liver (perihilar tumors) are usually treated by surgically removing a portion of the bile duct, the gallbladder, and parts of the liver, pancreas and small intestine.

When a tumor can't be removed — often because it's too close to major blood vessels — your surgeon may suggest an operation to go around (bypass) some of your small intestine. This may help prevent further blockage of the bile duct and digestive tract and may also help relieve symptoms.

If a bypass operation isn't an option, your surgeon may place metal or plastic tubes known as stents into the bile duct to keep it open and help ease symptoms.


Although it's not possible to prevent gallbladder and bile duct cancers, you can take steps to reduce your risk of getting them. In general, eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise can lower your risk of developing many types of cancer.

Gallbladder cancer

Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to reduce your chance of developing gallbladder cancer. If you need to lose weight, remember that a slow, steady loss is the healthiest way to reach your goals. Aim for no more than 1 to 2 pounds a week.

You can also greatly reduce your risk of gallbladder cancer by stopping smoking. Cigarette smoke contains carcinogens that can damage the DNA that regulates cell growth. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to quit.

Bile duct cancer

The best way to prevent bile duct cancer is to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals as much as possible. This includes highly hazardous substances such as dioxin — a byproduct of plastics and chlorinated pesticide manufacturing — and PCBs, which were used in many appliances manufactured before 1980. It also includes nitrosamines, a group of carcinogenic chemicals found in products ranging from tobacco leaves to cured meats.

Gallbladder cancer > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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