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Gallbladder Cancer

Learn about what Baptist Cancer Center offers you in terms of leading-edge gallbladder cancer treatments.

Gall Bladder Cancer Explained

Gallbladder cancer originates in the gallbladder, a small, pear-shaped organ below the liver that stores bile. Because cancer of the gallbladder doesn’t usually cause symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage, prognosis is often poor.

In fact, only about one in five gallbladder cancers is found in the early stages, when the cancer has not spread beyond the gallbladder, according to the American Cancer Society. Gallbladder cancer is not common and affects fewer than 20,000 people each year.

How is Gallbladder Cancer Diagnosed and Treated?

Most gallbladder cancers are not found until patients experience symptoms, which can often mean the cancer has progressed to a later stage. Some gallbladder cancer is found when the gallbladder is removed to treat gallstones.

To diagnose gallbladder cancer, your doctor will ask about your medical history and suggest a series of tests, which may include:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasound
  • Endoscopic or laparoscopic ultrasound
  • CT or MRI scans
  • Cholangiography
  • Angiography
  • Minor surgery (called laparoscopy)
  • Biopsy

Gallbladder cancer treatment depends on the stage of the cancer and your overall health. If you are diagnosed with early-stage gallbladder cancer, surgery to remove the gallbladder is recommended. The surgeon may also remove a portion of your liver.

Your doctor may also recommend chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of both therapies, especially if the cancer has spread to other areas of the body.

Gall Bladder Cancer Treatment at Baptist Cancer Center

Gallbladder cancer is a rare and life-threatening malignancy requiring specialized care and expertise. At Baptist Cancer Center, our multidisciplinary gastrointestinal tumor clinic provides our patients an opportunity to have an evaluation by a team of medical doctors with expertise necessary for treatment of gallbladder cancer. At the time of your appointment, you may expect to be seen by a hepatobiliary surgeon, a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist, as well other team members, such as an interventional radiologist, a nutritionist, a genetic counselor, a social worker and others. Providing patients and families with the best possible care is important to us, so we offer the supportive services you need, from understanding your gallbladder cancer diagnosis and our leading-edge treatment options to navigating insurance and financial plans. Our team of medical doctors and specialists is dedicated to designing an individualized treatment plan to help you fight your cancer diagnosis close to home.

The Different Types of Gall Bladder Cancer

There are two main types of gallbladder cancer:


About nine out of 10 gallbladder cancers are adenocarcinomas. These cancers start in cells that line the internal and external surface of the gallbladder.

Papillary adenocarcinomas

A type of gallbladder adenocarcinoma, these cancers resemble finger-like projections when viewed under a microscope. They usually have a better prognosis than other gallbladder cancers.

Learn the Symptoms and Causes

Recognizing the signs of gallbladder cancer allows for timely intervention, potentially increasing the chances of successful treatment and improving your quality of life.

What are gallbladder cancer causes and risk factors?

  • A history of gallstones
  • Sex
  • Obesity
  • Age
  • Family history
  • Smoking
  • Ethnicity and geography (higher risk among Mexican, Latin and Native Americans)
  • Abnormalities of the bile ducts
  • Gallbladder polyps
  • Primary sclerosing cholangitis
  • Calcium deposits on the gallbladder (known as porcelain gallbladder)
  • Exposure to chemicals and nitrosamines

Common Signs and Symptoms

Sometimes, gallbladder cancer symptoms appear early and can lead to early treatment. Signs of gallbladder cancer may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling or lumps on the right side of the abdomen
  • Jaundice

These symptoms can also indicate gallbladder stones, which are more common than gallbladder cancer. However, if you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to discuss them with your doctor.

Three doctors in a professional conversation.

Related Information

Connect With a Patient Navigator

As a patient at Baptist Cancer Center, you will have access to a dedicated patient navigator who will act as your advocate and liaison between you and your health care teams. Our patient navigators are available at every step to schedule appointments, answer questions, explain the treatment process, and provide resources, education and support when you and your family need it.