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Gallbladder cancer

Gallbladder cancer treatments

Our gallbladder cancer program offers surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy. Which treatment option may be appropriate for you depends on several factors, including the stage and extent of your disease. Your team of gallbladder cancer experts will recommend treatment options based on your unique diagnosis and needs. Common treatments for gallbladder cancer include those listed below.

Surgery

Surgery is a common treatment for gallbladder cancer. It may be performed to completely remove the tumor if the cancer is still localized, or to relieve symptoms or pain if the cancer is more widespread.

Staging laparoscopy: A staging laparoscopy is often performed before surgery, to allow the surgeon to get a closer look at the cancer and surrounding structures, and to determine the strategy for gallbladder cancer surgery. To do this, a long tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the abdomen through a small incision, and images are sent back that let the surgeon see where the cancer is, and how far it may have spread.

Cholecystectomy: This is an operation to remove the gallbladder. A simple cholecystectomy in which only the gallbladder is removed is used most often for non-cancerous causes, such as when the gallbladder needs to be taken out because of gallstones. However, a more extensive, or radical, procedure is used most frequently if cancer is suspected. In an extended cholecystectomy, the surgeon removes the gallbladder along with a portion of the nearby liver, and the regional lymph nodes. Portions of other nearby organs may also be removed if the surgeon suspects the cancer has spread. This more extensive procedure can help to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back after gallbladder cancer surgery.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy may be prescribed in addition to surgery to help prevent recurrence of gallbladder cancer. The potential side effects of chemotherapy may include nausea, vomiting, hair loss and mouth sores. Prior to receiving chemotherapy for gallbladder cancer, you may receive pre-medications to help make side effects more tolerable. Your care team will offer a variety of techniques designed to help reduce or manage chemotherapy-related symptoms. For example, our naturopathic support providers may suggest supplements to reduce nausea, and a mind-body therapist may recommend techniques to help you relax and feel less anxious during your gallbladder cancer chemotherapy treatments.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy for gallbladder cancer may be used to shrink the size of a tumor or to help kill cancer cells that may be left after surgery. Radiation therapy requires accuracy and precision. With targeted radiation therapy delivery systems, our radiation oncologists are better able to zero in on difficult-to-reach tumors in the gallbladder. Our radiation oncologists may also use technologies designed to direct higher radiation doses at gallbladder cancer cells, while reducing exposure to normal, healthy tissue.

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