Gallbladder Cancer

About Gallbladder Cancer

Gallbladder cancer is a rare cancer that arises from the gallbladder. Only 2 per 100,000 people develop this type of cancer in the USA yearly.

Gallstones and chronic inflammation are the most common risk factors identified. Gallbladder cancer can spread by direct invasion into the liver, as well as by lymphatic and hematogenous spread. Even early stage gallbladder cancers can spread via the lymphatic system.

First level nodal spread are classified as N-1 or cyst and pericholeodochal lymph nodes. N-2 nodes include peripancreatic and celiac nodes. Spread to interaortocaval nodes are classified as M-1.

Surgical Treatment of Gallbladder Cancer

The majority of gallbladder cancers are adenocarcinoma, or cancers that begin in glandular cells. Surgical resection to include segment 4b and 5 of the liver, in combination with a portal lymph node dissection, is the treatment of choice for cancers confined to the gallbladder.

Excision of the common bile duct is reserved for cases where the cystic duct stump is positive for cancer cells. Regional or portal lympadenectomy is included. A negative cystic duct margin is required as a part of gallbladder cancer surgeries.

Choosing Your Surgeon

With over 20 years of highly-specialized experience and training, Dr. Mark Fraiman is recognized as an expert in the treatment of gallbladder cancer in Baltimore.

Using a multidisciplinary approach, Dr. Fraiman works closely with a team of specialists at St. Joseph Medical Center’s Liver and Pancreas Center to come up with an individualized plan for each of our gallbladder patients.

Dr. Fraiman’s commitment to exceptional patient care is reflected in the numerous honors and awards he has received throughout his medical career.

Symptoms of Gallbladder Cancer

  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia

Staging of Gallbladder Cancer

  • Tis Carcinoma insitu
  • T1a Tumor invades lamina propria
  • T1b Tumor invades muscle layer
  • T2 Tumor invades perimuscular connective tissue
  • T 3 Tumor invades liver
  • T 4 Tumor involves portal vein or hepatic artery

How Is Gallbladder Cancer Diagnosed?

Gallbladder cancer is difficult to detect. The gallbladder is found deep inside the body, so early tumors can neither be seen nor felt during physical examinations. There are also no blood tests or any other exams that can conclusively detect gallbladder cancer early enough when it’s still in stage I.

As a result, this type of cancer is usually discovered only after the cancer has progressed enough to start causing signs and symptoms. There are, however, cases when gallbladder cancer can be found unexpectedly — for instance, when a person’s gallbladder is being removed because of the presence of gallstones.

Treatment of Gallbladder Cancer

The first goal of treatment for cancer of the gallbladder is to remove the tumor. When this isn’t feasible, however, other types of treatments may be used to help control the spread of the illness and improve your quality of life.

Treating Early Stage Cancer of the Gallbladder

In terms of staging, stage I and II gallbladder cancers and some stage III cancers are treatable by surgery. But, other factors, like whether a person is in good overall health, can determine whether gallbladder cancer surgery is a good option.

In general, cancers that are confined within the gallbladder are treatable by surgery. The only exception is when the cancer is found near major blood vessels. Additionally, if the cancer has invaded the liver, but not too deep, it is possible to use surgery to remove all the gallbladder cancer and set the patient on the road to recovery.

Treatments for Late Stage Gallbladder Cancer

If the cancer has spread deeply into the liver, abdominal cavity and other organs far away from the gallbladder, surgery is unlikely to be successful in removing all the tumors. Instead the surgeon will use treatments with the sole goal of relieving the symptoms of cancer and making you as comfortable as possible.

Treatment options include:

  • Chemotherapy: Drug treatment used to kill cancer cells
  • Radiation Therapy: X-ray treatment used to kill cancer cells

How Common Is Gallbladder Cancer?

Gallbladder cancer is a very rare disease. It is more common in females than males. Almost 600 people are diagnosed with this type of cancer in the USA every year.

Is Gallbladder Cancer Curable?

Gallbladder cancer is curable if it is found in the early stages before it has spread. This is the time when the tumor can be completely removed by surgery.

If the cancer has spread, other therapies can be used to improve the patient’s quality of life by keeping the signs and symptoms under control.

Contact Our Gallbladder Cancer Specialists Today

For more information regarding gallbladder cancer surgery or a consultation with one of our specialists, please feel free to get in touch by completing our contact form. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

In the following video, Dr. Mark Fraiman discusses the diagnosis and treatment of gallbladder cancer in Baltimore, MD.