Other Treatment Options for Gallbladder Cancer

Abnormal growth and division of cancer cells leads to the development of cancer in the body. The cancer that develops in the gallbladder is known as gallbladder cancer. The gallbladder is located behind the liver and is responsible for the storage of bile which is secreted by the liver. This is a very rare but one of the most treatable types of cancer when diagnosed in the early stages. To read about gallbladder and gallbladder cancer, click here But due to location of the gallbladder, this cancer is often diagnosed in the advanced stages which affects its survival rate.

Picture of a nurse holding a 3D gallbladder

Common treatment options for gallbladder cancer:

The most commonly recommended treatments for treating gallbladder cancer are:

Other treatment methods for gallbladder cancer:

Other than the above mentioned treatments, other methods are also used in treating gallbladder cancer. These treatments are preferred after treating the patients with the above methods or given along with the above methods. Following the other methods to treat gallbladder cancer:

  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Palliative therapy
  • Alcohol injection

Immunotherapy:

This treatment uses medication to improve the patient’s immune system to fight back the cancer cells in an effective way. Most of these drugs are under clinical trials. Monoclonal antibodies, immune checkpoint inhibitors to treat cancer, cancer vaccines and CAR T-cell therapies are used as a part of immunotherapy.

Targeted therapy:

This is a very advanced treatment, which uses drugs for treating gallbladder cancer. These drugs function completely different from the chemotherapeutic drugs. They target the gene and protein mutations that cause cancers. Since these drugs target just the malignant cells, they have minimal impact on the healthy cells which results in reduced side effects. These can be used along with other treatments also. A few drugs of targeted therapy is given under clinical trials for treating gallbladder cancer.

Palliative therapy:

This treatment does not aim in curing the cancer. Its objective is to relieve the patients from pain and symptoms caused by the cancer. Treatments like chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgical procedures are also used a part of palliative care for treating metastasized gallbladder cancer. Procedures or treatments which have lower impact of side effects on the body are recommended. Following are the ways to give palliative care for patients having gallbladder cancer:

Biliary stent or biliary catheter:

If the tumour grows beyond the gallbladder and into the nearby structure, it can cause the bile duct to get blocked leading to the buildup of bile in the liver and the gallbladder. This can cause to jaundice, infections and liver failure. To relieve the patients from these, the blockage can be overcome by placing a stent or catheter. Stents are small plastic or metal tube which is placed in the bile duct, allowing the bile to drained into the small intestine. Catheter is a small rubber tube whose one end is interested in the bile duct through the abdomen and the other end is attached to a detachable bag outside the body. The bile is drained into the bag and is disposed once filled. These stents or catheters have to replaced periodically to minimize the risk of infections and gallbladder inflammation. These might also get clogged if not changed regularly.

Biliary bypass:

This procedure is often recommended for healthy patients who require the bile to be drained from the liver to the gallbladder amidst tumours. Depending on the location of the blockage, a bypass can be created around the tumour blocking the bile duct. This connects the part of the bile duct before the blockage to the potion that lies past the blockage or the intestine. Although this gives more relief and a patient can be more comfortable through this procedure than with a stent or a catheter, patients have to extremely healthy to be prescribed this procedure.

Alcohol injection:

In order to relieve the person from the pain that is caused by the cancer, alcohol is given to the nerves that carry the pain signals from the gallbladder to the brain. This alcohol makes the nerves dead and the patients do not experience pain. These injections can be done during surgery or by using a long needle with the help of a CT scan. Alcohol injections are also used as a palliative treatment method for gallbladder cancer.

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