Gallbladder tumors require coordinated care from several specialties.
If a tumor is small and has not yet spread to further layers of the gallbladder, a cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) with a limited liver resection and removal of lymph nodes may be performed.
With more advanced gallbladder tumors, part of the bile duct is also removed.
If a tumor is discovered after the gallbladder has been removed for another reason, patients often undergo a second surgery to remove the portion of the liver near the site of the gallbladder.
Following surgery, patients may undergo external beam radiation therapy.
If a gallbladder tumor is so extensive that it cannot be removed surgically, patients may be treated with radiation. Radiation therapy can reduce pain and improve symptoms.
Chemotherapy is a key element of treatment for gallbladder tumors that have not spread beyond the gallbladder. Following surgery, patients may undergo concurrent chemotherapy and external beam radiation therapy.
For inoperable gallbladder cancers, drug therapy is sometimes given concurrently with radiation therapy.
Advanced gallbladder cancers sometimes metastasize to the liver, where they can develop into large tumor masses. Inoperable liver masses can be treated with chemoembolization. During this minimally invasive procedure, an interventional radiologist uses catheter-based tools to deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to the site of the tumor. (Learn more about chemoembolization .)
Clinical trials offer patients access to new drugs and treatment approaches. For a complete list of clinical investigations currently available at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, see our clinical trials page.