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Gallbladder Cancer

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The gallbladder is a small organ that's pear-shaped and located beneath the liver. Both the gallbladder and liver are behind the lower ribs on the right side. In adults, the gallbladder is around 3 or 4 inches long and typically no wider than an inch.

The purpose of the gallbladder is to concentrate and store bile, which is a fluid produced in the liver. Bile aids in the digestion of fats as they go through the small intestine. Bile can be released from the liver directly into bile ducts that carry it to the small intestine. Bile can be stored in the gallbladder and released later.        

Types of Gallbladder Cancer

Gallbladder cancers are labeled by where they start. Each type can cause different symptoms. These cancers can be:       

  • Adenocarcinoma: Approximately nine out of 10 gallbladder cancer cases are adenocarcinomas. An adenocarcinoma is a kind of cancer that begins in cells with gland-like properties. Gallbladder adenocarcinoma starts in cells that line the inside of the digestive system.
  • Papillary adenocarcinoma or Papillary cancer: Around six percent of all gallbladder cancer cases are papillary adenocarcinomas. When seen under a microscope, the cells in these cancers look like finger-like projections. Papillary cancers do not usually grow into the liver or nearby lymph nodes.
  • Rare Gallbladder Cancers: Adenosquamous carcinomas, small cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and sarcomas can develop in the gallbladder but are not common.

Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?

High volume experience with gallbladder and bile duct/biliary cancers. You get better treatment outcomes and fewer potential complications.

Leading laparoscopic and robotic-assisted surgery expertise. We offer greater precision and faster recovery for our gallbladder surgery patients.

Advanced radiation options like ViewRay (one of just five centers nationwide) and RapidArc, offering intensity modulated external radiation therapy (IMRT). Our leading-edge technology offers more efficient and effective treatments, shorter treatment times, pinpoint accuracy in targeting tumors, and less damage to surrounding healthy tissue. 

More cancer clinical trials than any other South Florida hospital. If appropriate for your cancer and stage, our clinical trials provide you with the very newest ways to treat and potentially cure your cancer.

Questions? We're here to help.

Our appointment specialists are ready to help you find what you need. Contact us today.

Treatments


Many factors determine the  best treatment for your cancer: tumor size, location, stage, your body, lifestyle and your overall health. The experts at Sylvester will work together to devise the most effective treatment plan for you.        

  • Surgery 

    The goal of surgery is usually to remove all or as much of the tumor as possible. Types of surgery include:

    • Simple cholecystectomy: This procedure removes the gallbladder or a part of it. 

    • Extended or radical cholecystectomy: When the gallbladder, plus nearby tissues are removed. This surgery may include removal of  some of the liver, the bile duct, and lymph nodes. 

    • Robotic-Assisted Whipple Procedure (Pancreaticoduodenectomy): Removal of nearby organs affected by cancers in the lower part of the bile duct. Our expertise offers smaller incisions, less blood loss, and potentially faster recovery time.
       
  • Radiation Therapy 

    We use external beam radiation to precisely targeted to your tumor and delivered from outside the body. It can also be used to relieve symptoms. Advanced technology working for you includes intensity modulated external radiation therapy (IMRT) and ViewRay MRI-guided radiation therapy.     

  • Chemotherapy (Systemic Medical Therapy) 

    Chemotherapy is usually given in a treatment plan with surgery or radiation therapy to increase impact. Typically, a combination of cancer-fighting drugs is administered intravenously or by pill orally (by mouth).

    • If you require intravenous (infusion) chemotherapy, you can receive it at the Comprehensive Treatment Unit (CTU) at Sylvester's main location in Miami. It's a 12,000-square-foot unit that includes 33 recliners and 11 private rooms. If you prefer, you can have your infusion treatments at the Kendall and Deerfield Beach locations.

  • Targeted Therapy 

    Designed to attack the molecular changes or alterations that make cancer cells grow and spread. Targeted therapies are available for select patients, as recommended by your Sylvester oncologist.

  • Immunotherapy (Biologic Therapy) 

    Immunotherapy uses medicines to tap into the power of the body's immune systems to fight cancer. 


Tests


Beyond a careful and complete medical history and physical examination, procedures for diagnosing gallbladder or bile duct cancer may include:

  • Blood Tests 

    • Liver function/enzyme tests: A blood test to detect  inflammation or damage to the liver caused by gallbladder cancer.

    • Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and CA 19-9 assays: Tests that measure the level of CEA and CA 19-9 in the blood, which are substances released into the bloodstream from cancer cells and healthy cells. When found at high levels, it can be a sign of gallbladder cancer or a non-cancerous condition. 
       
  • Imaging Tests 

    • Ultrasound: This diagnostic imaging technique relies on sound waves that are high-frequency, along with a computer to produce pictures of tissues, blood vessels, and organs. Ultrasounds are used to see and assess internal organs as they function, and also to evaluate blood flow through various vessels.      

    • Computed Tomography (CT) scan: CT or "CAT" scans rely on a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal, or axial, images of pelvic organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays. 

    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan: This type of scan uses large magnets, radio waves, and a computer to produce in-depth images of structures and organs in the body.     

    • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: A small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein before a scan to highlight any cancerous cells. The cancer cells “light up” because they use more glucose for energy.

    • Cholangiopancreatography: Performed as an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (X-raying with a flexible lighted tube inserted down the windpipe and into the bile ducts) or as a percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (x-raying by inserting a thin needle below the ribs into the liver via the skin) to determine blockages, treat, or take samples.   

Accepted Insurances

Note: Health plans that are currently contracted with UHealth are listed below. However, please check with your insurance provider to verify that UHealth is part of your provider network.

  • Aetna WC
  • Aetna Affiliates/Signature Adm (ASA)
  • Aetna Behavioral Health
  • Aetna Elect Choice (EPO)
  • Aetna Florida Healthy Kids
  • Aetna HMO
  • Aetna Medicaid HMO
  • Aetna Medicare HMO
  • Aetna Medicare PPO
  • Aetna POS
  • Aetna PPO
  • Aetna UM Employee HMO 1
  • Aetna UM Employee HMO 2
  • Aetna UM Employee POS HRA
  • Aetna/Coventry Institutes of Excellence (IOE)
  • Amerigroup Florida Healthy Kids
  • Amerigroup Medicaid HMO
  • Argus Vision
  • AvMed Choice
  • AvMed HMO/POS
  • AvMed MDC and JHS Groups
  • AvMed Medicare HMO
  • AXIS
  • BCBS Blue Options Network Blue PPO
  • BCBS BlueCare HealthOptions HMO
  • BCBS BlueChoice PPC/PPO
  • BCBS Miami Dade Blue PPO Limited Benefits Plan
  • BCBS of Florida (All products except "SELECT" Plans)
  • BCBS of Florida (Commercial plans exclude HIX Select)
  • BCBS Traditional PHS/PPO
  • Beacon Health (ValueOption)
  • Beech Street PPO
  • Broward Health Medical Center
  • CarePlus Medicare HMO
  • Catholic Hospice
  • CCP/CMS Title XIX (Medicaid Enrolled in South Florida)
  • CCP/CMS Title XXI (Non Medicaid Enrolled in South Florida)
  • CCP/MMA (Broward County residents)
  • Charlotte County Sheriffs Office PPO
  • Cigna Affiliates
  • Cigna Behavioral Health
  • Cigna Dental HMO/PPO
  • Cigna EPO
  • Cigna HMO
  • Cigna Life Source (Intracorp is part of Cigna Lifesource)
  • Cigna MDCPS Jackson Sr. High
  • Cigna POS
  • Cigna PPO
  • Cigna Shared Administration
  • Clear Health Alliance SNP Medicaid HMO
  • CompCare (Comprehensive Behavioral Care)
  • Concordia Behavioral Health
  • CorVel WC
  • Coventry First Health WC
  • Coventry Health Care of Florida (HIP) HMO/POS
  • Coventry Health Care of Florida (HIP) PPO
  • Coventry Health Plan of Florida (Foundation) HMO
  • Coventry Health Plan of Florida (Foundation) POS
  • Coventry National PPO
  • Coventry Summit Medicare HMO
  • Coventry Vista Medicare HMO
  • Coventry Vista Medicare HMO
  • Delta Dental PPO
  • DentaQuest (ADI)
  • DIKLA
  • Dimension WC
  • Dimension Plus PPO
  • EHN PPO
  • EQUIAN (Health Systems International)
  • Europe Assistance/Global Corporate Solutions (Care Management Network)
  • eyeQuest
  • FCCI WC
  • Florida Healthcare Plan (Affiliate of BCBSFL)
  • Florida PACE (FPC)
  • Freedom Health Medicaid HMO
  • Freedom Health Medicare HMO
  • Gallagher Bassett WC (MDCPS & FCSRMC)
  • Global Excel Mgt PPO
  • Global Health Claims Services
  • Great West (Cigna) HMO/POS
  • Guardian Life PPO
  • HAA Preferred Partners
  • Health First Health HMO/POS
  • Health First Health Medicare HMO
  • Health First Health PPO
  • Health Net Veterans Choice HMO
  • Heritage Summit Healthcare WC
  • Humana Behavioral Health (LifeSynch)
  • Humana Dental/CompBenefits/OHS
  • Humana EPO
  • Humana HMO
  • Humana HUMx
  • Humana Medicaid HMO
  • Humana Medicare HMO
  • Humana National Transplant
  • Humana PPO
  • Humana Premier
  • iCare Health Solutions
  • Interlink Health Services
  • International Kids Fund (IKF)
  • League Medical Concepts Federal Inmates
  • Life Trac
  • Magellan Behavioral Health
  • Magellan Complete Care SNP Medicaid HMO
  • MDAbroad
  • Medica Medicare HMO
  • Medical Development In't (MDI)-Federal Inmates
  • Medicus
  • Metlife Dental PPO
  • MHNet Behavioral Network (MHNet)
  • Molina
  • Molina Market Place
  • Molina Medicaid HMO
  • Molina Medicare HMO
  • Morgan White International
  • MultiPlan PPO
  • Naphcare (Federal Prisoners)
  • National Healthcare Solutions Inc.
  • Neighborhood HealthPlan HMO/POS
  • Neighborhood HealthPlan PPO
  • North Broward Hospital District PPO
  • Olympus Managed Healthcare
  • Optum
  • Positive Healthcare SNP Medicaid HMO
  • Positive Healthcare SNP Medicare HMO
  • Prestige Health Choice Medicaid HMO
  • Prime Health Services WC
  • Quality Health Management
  • Religious Order of Jehovah's Witnesses PPO
  • Rockport Healthcare Group WC
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises PPO
  • Sanus Health Corporation
  • Simply Healthcare Medicaid HMO
  • Solstice Dental HMO/PPO
  • Start Healthcare Network
  • Sunshine
  • Sunshine AMBETTER
  • Sunshine Healthy Kids HMO
  • Sunshine Medicaid HMO
  • Sunshine Medicare HMO
  • Tricare South Prime HMO
  • Tricare South Standard PPO
  • United Behavioral Health (UBH)
  • UnitedHealthcare Affiliates
  • UnitedHealthcare Healthy Kids HMO
  • UnitedHealthcare HMO/POS
  • UnitedHealthcare Medicaid HMO
  • UnitedHealthcare Medicare Nursing Home Plan
  • UnitedHealthcare PPO
  • University of Miami Athletic Dept PPO
  • VUMI
  • Wellcare/Staywell Healthy Kids HMO
  • Wellcare/Staywell Medicaid HMO
  • Wexford Health State Inmates
  • Worldwide Managed Care