Treatments for gallbladder cancer

If you have gallbladder cancer, your healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for you. It will be based on your health and specific information about the cancer. When deciding which treatments to offer for gallbladder cancer, your healthcare team will consider if the cancer:

  • can be completely removed with surgery (is resectable)
  • cannot be completely removed with surgery (is unresectable)

Most gallbladder cancers are found at a late stage where the cancer has spread and cannot be completely removed with surgery.

Expert review and references

  • Lillemoe, K. D., Schulick, R. D., Kennedy, A. S., et al . Cancers of the Biliary Tree: Clinical Management. Kelsen, D. P., Daly, J. M., Kern, S. E., Levin, B., Tepper, J. E., & Van Cutsem, E. (eds.). Principles and Practice of Gastrointestinal Oncology. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008: 37:493-510.
  • Patel,T. and Borad, M.J. . Cancer of the biliary tree. DeVita VT Jr, Lawrence TS, & Rosenberg SA. Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015: 53:715-733.
  • Siegel, A.B., Sheynzon,V., and Samstein, B. . Uncommon Hepatobiliary tumors. Raghavan, E., Blanke, C.D., Johnson, D. H., et al. (Eds.). Textbook of Uncommon Cancer. 4th ed. Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons; 2012: 31:441-452.

Treatments for resectable gallbladder cancer

The following are treatment options for resectable gallbladder cancer. The types of treatments given are based on the unique needs of the person with cancer.

Treatments for unresectable gallbladder cancer

The following are treatment options for unresectable gallbladder cancer. The types of treatments given are based on the unique needs of the person with cancer.

Treatments for recurrent gallbladder cancer

The following are treatment options for recurrent gallbladder cancer. The types of treatments given are based on the unique needs of the person with cancer.

Surgery for gallbladder cancer

Surgery is sometimes used to treat gallbladder cancer. The type of surgery depends mainly on the size of the tumour and stage of the cancer. Learn about the different types of cholecystectomy.

Radiation therapy for gallbladder cancer

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to destroy cancer cells. It is sometimes used to treat gallbladder cancer.

Chemotherapy for gallbladder cancer

Chemotherapy uses anticancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. Most people with gallbladder cancer have chemotherapy.

Follow-up after treatment for gallbladder cancer

Gallbladder cancer behaves differently in each person, and a standard follow-up schedule would not work for everyone. People with gallbladder cancer should talk to their doctor about a follow-up plan that suits their individual situation. Follow-up care is often shared among the cancer specialists and your family doctor.