Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancer

Bile duct cancer, or cholangiocarcinoma, is a disease in which there is a malignant growth in the bile duct, the tubes that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder and small intestine. Bile duct cancer is rare, and most common in both men and women older than 65. When cancer cells grow in the gallbladder, this is known as gallbladder cancer. This is also a rare form of cancer. Cancerous tumors of the bile ducts and gallbladder are already advanced by the time they are found, since the diseases often show no early symptoms. 

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Diagnosing gallbladder and bile duct cancer

Tests used to help diagnose bile duct and gallbladder cancer may include an MRI scan, an abdominal CT scan, ultrasound, a CT scan directed biopsy, cytology, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), and Percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PTCA). 

Treating gall bladder and bile duct cancer

Treatment for gall bladder and bile duct cancer is often dictated by the stage of the cancer and its location. When possible, surgery to remove the tumor is the recommended treatment, with the goal of treating the cancer and the blockage it causes. 

If surgery is necessary, our physicians use minimally invasive techniques whenever possible. Minimally invasive approaches reduce hospital stays, as well as your pain and recovery time after the procedure. Endoscopic surgery can clear blockages in the biliary ducts and relieve jaundice in patients when the tumor cannot be removed. In the case of gallbladder cancer, surgical removal of the gallbladder may be needed, as well as removal of part of the liver and adjacent lymph nodes. 

If surgery is not an option, non-surgical procedures such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, or a combination of treatments may be recommended.