Gallbladder and bile duct cancer are rare types of gastrointestinal cancers. They are typically diagnosed in later stages because they do not usually cause any signs or symptoms. Doctors usually find these types of cancer after removing the gallbladder or checking for gallstones.
If you are diagnosed with gallbladder or bile duct cancer, Miami Cancer Institute’s renowned gastrointestinal cancer specialists combine medical expertise and compassionate care to provide the best treatment option for you. Our cancer specialists have access to a range of cutting-edge technologies to diagnose and treat your specific cancer, with the goal of creating a personalized plan that effectively treats your disease.
Our multidisciplinary team consists of internationally renowned oncologists who focus on the whole patient; from diagnosis, to treatment, to post-cancer life. Each individualized cancer care plan includes innovative treatments and services, such as nutritional advice, physical rehabilitation and pain management, to address your whole journey as a patient. Not only do we focus on the treatment that is right for your cancer, we focus on the treatment that is right for you as a patient.
Gallbladder and bile duct cancer are caused when malignant (cancerous) cells develop in the tissue of the gallbladder or bile ducts.
The gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ in the upper abdomen. The gallbladder stores bile, which is a fluid used to digest fat that is produced by the liver. The gallbladder releases bile into vessels called bile ducts, which carry the bile into the small intestine. Releasing the bile into the small intestine helps you digest food.
Most gallbladder and bile duct cancers are adenocarcinomas, which is a cancer that forms in the mucus glands of the gallbladder and bile ducts.
Most bile duct tumors form outside the liver (extrahepatic bile duct cancer), however, approximately one-third of bile duct tumors form inside the bile duct branches inside the liver (intrahepatic bile duct cancer). Bile duct tumors are also called cholangiocarcinomas.
There are several other forms of gallbladder cancer, but they are very rare. They include:
Women are twice as likely as men to develop gallbladder cancer. Native Americans and Mexican Americans also have a higher risk of developing gallbladder cancer compared with the general population.
Other risk factors for gallbladder cancer include:
Bile duct cancer is more likely to affect people who suffer from chronic inflammation in the bile ducts, which is often caused by small stones (similar to gallstones) that form in the bile ducts.
Other risk factors for bile duct cancer include:
Most risk factors for gallbladder and bile duct cancer, such as age, gender, and ethnicity are unavoidable. If you have chronic gallstones or porcelain gallbladder, your doctor may recommend removing your gallbladder, which can prevent these types of cancers.
There are ways you can lower your risk for developing cancer, including: