Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer

Treatments for Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer

Among the many types of cancer that affect humans, gallbladder and bile duct cancer is one of the most common. It is also one of the most curable if you find the right doctor and follow his advice.


Symptoms of gallbladder and bile duct cancer include jaundice and abdominal pain. Jaundice occurs when the liver is unable to get rid of bile. The liver produces bile, which helps break down fat. Jaundice is caused by bilirubin, a chemical found in bile. The yellow color of the skin and eyes deepens and becomes brown and orange.

Jaundice is the most common symptom of bile duct cancer. It is also a symptom of other diseases. Jaundice may be caused by hepatitis or gallstones. When the liver cannot get rid of bile, bilirubin rises in the bloodstream.

Other symptoms include nausea, loss of appetite, and dark urine. If your doctor suspects bile duct cancer, he or she may perform a physical examination, blood tests, imaging tests, and biopsies. If the test results indicate that you have bile duct cancer, treatment may be a surgical procedure or a combination of surgeries and other treatments.

A biopsy is a test that uses a thin needle to sample a piece of tissue. The tissue is sent to a lab for analysis. If your doctor suspects that you have bile duct cancer, he may order a CT or MRI scan. These imaging tests will identify whether cancer has spread. If cancer has spread, your doctor will recommend a treatment.

If the bile duct cancer has spread, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery can remove some bile duct cancer, but it may not be able to eliminate the tumor. If surgery is not possible, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be used.

If bile duct cancer has spread, you may feel depressed. Your doctor may prescribe supportive care to help you feel better.


Symptoms of gallbladder and bile duct cancer include jaundice, weight loss, and fatigue. If these symptoms appear, your family doctor may order tests to diagnose the condition.

Abdominal ultrasound is one way to diagnose bile duct cancer. The test uses x-rays to make cross-sectional pictures of the organs. It also can detect tumors.

Another way to diagnose bile duct cancer is through magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography. This MRI uses a machine with a strong magnetic force to create pictures that show the gallbladder and bile suckling tract. The test can also show the location of the tumor in the gallbladder.

Surgery is one of the treatment options for gallbladder and bile d duct cancer. If the tumor cannot be removed through surgery, radiation therapy can be used. This treatment can reduce the size of the tumor and reduce symptoms. However, it is not a cure. It can also be used as a palliative treatment.

A CT scan is also a common method to diagnose bile duct cancer. This procedure uses a computer to produce detailed cross-sectional images of the organs. This test can also identify whether the tumor has spread.

Endoscopic ultrasound is also a common test used to diagnose bile duct cancer. It uses a flexible tube with a light and sound waves to make detailed pictures of the organs.

If these tests show that you have bile duct cancer, you may be referred to a specialist. Depending on your health and the stage of the tumor, treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. However, surgery is often not the best option for the treatment of gallbladder and bile cancer.

Symptoms of gallbladder and liver cancer may include fever, night sweats, and weight loss. Bile duct cancer may also spread to other parts of the body. This is why it is important to seek treatment at an expert cancer center.


Surgical treatments for gallbladder and bile duct cancer can extend the life of patients with the disease. Some are standard, while others are being tested in clinical trials.

If your doctor recommends surgery, he or she will make sure you are a good candidate for surgery. Depending on the location and stage of your cancer, the surgeon may remove your bile duct, lymph nodes, or both.

If your bile duct is blocked, you may need to have a catheter or stent inserted to drain bile. Your doctor may also inject dye through the bile duct to check for blockages. X-rays may also show blockages. You may also need other treatments before or after surgery.

In some cases, a surgeon may remove the entire lobe of the liver. A surgeon may also remove part of the gallbladder. These surgeries are done to remove cancer and improve your symptoms.

You may also receive chemotherapy, which uses medicines to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is an important treatment for bile duct cancer. Some types of chemotherapy are standard treatments, while others are being tested in clinical trials. You may be able to participate in clinical trials before you begin treatment.

Other treatments include immunotherapy. This technique activates the body’s immune system to fight cancer. This treatment is not approved by the FDA, but doctors may use it if they feel it is a good option for you.

Photodynamic therapy is a promising approach to inoperable bile duct cancer. It works by destroying local tissue when activated by light. This technique is safe and non-toxic.

Your healthcare team may also remove lymph nodes around your cancer to check for cancer. They may also use laparoscopic ultrasounds to check for cancer.


Using Immunotherapy for Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer may be a new treatment approach for these types of cancers. Immunotherapy involves using the patient’s immune system to fight cancer. Using drugs, vaccines, and other therapies, the body’s own immune system can attack cancer cells.

Immunotherapy for gallbladder and bile duct cancer is not approved by the FDA, but some immunotherapy combinations are. Imfinzi, a drug from AstraZeneca, has been approved to treat BTCs (biliary tract cancers) and cholangiocarcinoma. It works by blocking the interaction between PD-L1 (programmed death-ligand 1 protein) and CD80 proteins.

Durvalumab, a human monoclonal antibody, also works by blocking the interaction of PD-L1 with CD80 proteins. It is the first immunotherapy combination approved for BTCs. In addition to bile duct cancer, Imfinzi is being evaluated in other types of GI cancers. AstraZeneca also has a partnership with Merck for Lynparza.

Other treatments for gallbladder and bile duct cancer include chemotherapy and surgery. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth or IV. A doctor may also look for genetic markers associated with bile duct cancer. Surgery may be recommended in up to 20 percent of cases. In cases where surgery is considered, a laparoscope is used to guide the surgery.

Another treatment is photodynamic therapy. This treatment involves a flexible tube that is inserted into the bile duct. A light is placed at the end of the tube and activates a medication that kills cancer cells.

In addition, an endoprosthesis can be placed across the tumor to allow the bile to drain. This treatment has been shown to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

A patient’s prognosis can be affected by the type of tumor, the stage of cancer, and the patient’s age. According to the American Cancer Society, bile duct cancer is relatively uncommon. But it is estimated to affect up to 12,000 people in 2021.

Palliative care

Depending on the stage of bile duct cancer, there are several treatment options. These may include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Each may relieve symptoms and extend the patient’s life. It is important to discuss all of your treatment options with your doctor, as some treatments may be better suited for your particular situation.

Surgery may be recommended in about 10 to 20% of all cases. The procedure can involve inserting a biliary stent. This stent can drain bile into a bag on the outside of the body. During surgery, the surgeon may remove a portion of the bile duct. During a bile duct cancer operation, the surgeon aims to make the patient feel better and prolong their life.

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It is usually used as part of a treatment plan that includes surgery and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy can also be given as a standalone treatment.

Internal and external radiation therapy is used to treat bile duct cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance that is sealed inside wires or catheters. The radiation can shrink tumors that are pressing on nearby nerves. The side effects of radiation therapy may include fatigue, loose bowel movements, and an upset stomach.

Chemotherapy may also be used as a palliative care treatment for gallbladder and bile duct cancer. The chemotherapy used as a palliative care therapy is often called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Symptom control teams are found in many cancer units. These teams will ask you about any symptoms you are experiencing. This information will help the healthcare team treat you more quickly.

Palliative care includes many services that help people with cancer deal with the physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges of treatment. These services include home care services.

Health Sources:

Health A to Z. (n.d.).

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.).

Directory Health Topics. (n.d.).

Health A-Z. (2022, April 26). Verywell Health.

Harvard Health. (2015, November 17). Health A to Z.

Health Conditions A-Z Sitemap. (n.d.).

Susan Silverman

Susan Silverman

Susan Silverman is a Healthy Home Remedies Writer for Home Remedy Lifestyle! With over 10 years of experience, I've helped countless people find natural solutions to their health problems. At Home Remedy Lifestyle, we believe that knowledge is power. I am dedicated to providing our readers with trustworthy, evidence-based information about home remedies and natural medical treatments. I love finding creative ways to live a healthy and holistic lifestyle on a budget! It is my hope to empower our readers to take control of their health!

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