Sir Ganga Ram Hospital
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Gall bladder and bile duct cancer

What is gall bladder cancer?

Gall bladder (also spelt as gallbladder) is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen, just beneath the liver. The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid called bile that's released into the small intestine. When cancer starts in gall bladder it is known as gallbladder cancer. Gallbladder cancer is a common cancer in India, especially in North India.

What are the symptoms of gallbladder cancer?

Symptoms of gallbladder cancer include:

What are the risk factors for gallbladder cancer?

The following factors can raise a person's risk of developing gallbladder cancer:

How is gallbladder cancer diagnosed?

The common tests used to diagnose gallbladder cancer include:

If your doctor confirms a diagnosis of gallbladder cancer, he or she tries to determine the extent (stage) of the cancer. Often this involves additional imaging tests. Your cancer's stage helps determine your prognosis and your treatment options.

How is gallbladder cancer treated?

Gallbladder cancer may be treated with one or more treatments, including surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. If detected at an early stage, gallbladder cancer has a much higher chance of being successfully treated.

What is bile duct cancer?

Bile ducts are the slender tubes that carry the digestive fluid bile and connect your liver to your gallbladder and to your small intestine. When cancer starts from the bile ducts it is known as bile duct cancer, also known as Cholangiocarcinoma. It is an uncommon form of cancer that occurs mostly in people older than age 50, though it can occur at any age.Cholangiocarcinoma is a type of tumor that is very difficult to treat.

What are the types of bile duct cancer?

Doctors divide bile duct cancer or cholangiocarcinoma into different types based on where the cancer occurs in the bile ducts:

What are the symptoms of bile duct cancer?

Symptoms of cholangiocarcinoma include:

What are the risk factors of bile duct cancer?

Factors that may increase your risk of cholangiocarcinoma include:

How is bile duct cancer diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects cholangiocarcinoma, he or she may have you undergo one or more of the following tests:

If your doctor confirms a diagnosis of cholangiocarcinoma, he or she tries to determine the extent (stage) of the cancer. Often this involves additional imaging tests. Your cancer's stage helps determine your prognosis and your treatment options.

What are the treatment options for cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer)?

The treatment options for cholangiocarcinoma may include:

Biliary drainage: Biliary drainage is a procedure to restore the flow of bile. Biliary drainage helps relieve signs and symptoms of cholangiocarcinoma. However, biliary drainage does not cure cholangiocarcinoma, it just relieves the symptoms of jaundice and itching. Biliary drainage can involve bypass surgery to reroute the bile around the cancer or stents to hold open a bile duct being collapsed by cancer. The stents are placed into the biliary system either endoscopically or via the percutaneous method. The endoscopic method is known as ERCP or Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-Pancreatography. The percutaneous method is known as PTBD or Percutaneous transhepatic biliary drainage.

Surgery: Whenever possible, doctors try to remove as much of the cancer as they can. For very small bile duct cancers, this involves removing part of the bile duct and joining the cut ends. For more-advanced bile duct cancers, nearby liver tissue, pancreas tissue or lymph nodes may be removed as well.

Liver transplant: Surgery to remove your liver and replace it with one from a donor (liver transplant) may be an option in certain cases for people with hilarcholangiocarcinoma. For many, a liver transplant is a cure for hilarcholangiocarcinoma, but there is a risk that the cancer will recur after a liver transplant.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be used before a liver transplant. It may also be an option for people with advanced cholangiocarcinoma to help slow the disease and relieve signs and symptoms.

Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy sources, such as photons (x-rays) and protons, to damage or destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy can involve a machine that directs radiation beams at your body (external beam radiation). Or it can involve placing radioactive material inside your body near the site of your cancer (brachytherapy).

Photodynamic therapy: In photodynamic therapy, a light-sensitive chemical is injected into a vein and accumulates in the fast-growing cancer cells. Laser light directed at the cancer causes a chemical reaction in the cancer cells, killing them. You'll typically need multiple treatments. Photodynamic therapy can help relieve your signs and symptoms, and it may also slow cancer growth. You'll need to avoid sun exposure after treatments.