How is gall bladder cancer treated?
Surgery is the main treatment for gall bladder cancer. The aim is to remove all the cancer cells. This may mean removing the gall bladder and various tissues, lymph nodes and organs, depending on how far the cancer has spread.
If your cancer is causing a blockage in your bile duct, your doctor might put a stent in during an ERCP. A stent is a thin mesh wire tube that will keep the duct open and prevent blockages.
Chemotherapy is a treatment using drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy for gall bladder cancer may be given:
- Before surgery or radiotherapy to shrink the cancer and reduce the risk of it coming back.
- With radiotherapy (chemoradiation), to help the radiotherapy work better
- As a treatment on its own for patients who can’t have surgery or for advanced gall bladder cancer.
You may have a single drug or a combination of different chemotherapy drugs. The drugs are either injected into the bloodstream or given in tablet form.
Radiotherapy is a treatment that uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. You will usually have treatment on weekdays for 4-5 weeks, going home after treatment each day.
Radiotherapy for gall bladder cancer may be given:
- After surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells
- With chemotherapy to make the treatment work better (chemoradiation)
- To relieve symptoms if the cancer is advanced or has come back. For example, pain, discomfort, bleeding or blockage. This is called palliative radiotherapy.
Will I get side-effects?
The type of side-effects you get will depend on the type of treatment, the dose, the duration and your own general health. Ask your doctor or nurse about any possible side-effects before your treatment starts. You can read about the different treatments to find out more about possible side-effects. We also have information to help you cope with different side-effects and symptoms.
Treating metastatic cancer
Metastatic gall bladder cancer means the cancer has spread beyond the gall bladder to other parts of the body.
If you have metastatic cancer, your doctor will aim to slow down the growth of the cancer and reduce or relieve any symptoms you have to give you the best quality of life possible. Treatment for metastatic cancer includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Or you may be suitable for a clinical trial.
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