If diagnosed early, gallbladder cancer can be cured with surgery. However, this type of cancer spreads quickly and often isn’t diagnosed until its later stages.
Gallbladder cancer is sometimes curable, but only when someone is diagnosed early enough that surgeons can remove all the cancer. It’s a
- Stage 1: The cancer is confined to the inner layers of the gallbladder.
- Stage 2: The cancer has spread locally to the outer layers of the gallbladder.
- Stage 3: The cancer has spread regionally to nearby lymph nodes or organs, like the liver, small intestine, or stomach.
- Stage 4: The cancer has spread to several nearby organs or distant areas of the body.
The stage of gallbladder cancer significantly affects outcomes. When working with your doctor to develop a treatment plan, it’s important to understand gallbladder cancer staging and the overall goals of treatment.
If the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes or tissue, a surgeon may also remove these tissues. This is known as a radial cholecystectomy.
Both of these procedures are typically done laparoscopically. This means the surgeon makes a small incision in the stomach and uses a camera and special instruments to remove the gallbladder. It’s less invasive than open surgery.
Surgery is the
If the cancer has spread too far beyond the gallbladder, removing the organ is not a cure. But the procedure may still be done to help reduce cancer symptoms and prolong life expectancy.
Gallbladder cancer can still be treated at later stages. Treatment can help slow the growth of cancer cells and help relieve symptoms.
A doctor may recommend
- Radiation therapy involves high energy X-rays or other forms of radiation applied to the affected area to kill cancerous cells or prevent them from growing.
- Chemotherapy involves taking strong oral or injected medications to kill cancerous cells or stop them from dividing.
Your doctor may also recommend joining a clinical trial to gain access to promising new treatments that are still being tested.
Each gallbladder cancer treatment comes with its own risks, benefits, and potential side effects. It’s important to work with your doctor to discuss your options.
Your doctor may also
Palliative care is not a cure for gallbladder cancer. It’s meant to help you feel more comfortable and improve your quality of life, no matter the stage of your cancer.
Gallbladder cancer is
As a result, gallbladder cancer has often spread by the time it’s diagnosed.
The survival rates for gallbladder cancer vary based on the stage at the time of diagnosis. According to the
- 69% for localized gallbladder cancer
- 28% for regional gallbladder cancer
- 3% for distant gallbladder cancer
Survival rates are broken down into percentages of how many people with that stage of cancer are likely to live for 5 years. The earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the better the outlook.
That said, as newer treatment options become available for gallbladder cancer, these outcomes may improve.
Surgery is the
However, even at later stages, gallbladder cancer treatment can help slow or stop the growth of cancer cells and help improve quality of life.
It’s important to talk with your doctor to determine the best course of action based on your individual circumstances.