Bile Duct & Gallbladder Cancer | Miami Cancer Institute | Baptist Health South Florida
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 Bile Duct & Gallbladder Cancer

Miami Cancer Institute takes a multidisciplinary team approach to providing the best possible diagnosis, treatment and palliative care for patients with bile duct and gallbladder cancers.

Bile duct cancer, or cholangiocarcinoma, occurs within the bile ducts – the vessels within and around the liver and gallbladder that move bile into the upper part of the small intestine to aid in digesting food.

Gallbladder cancer begins in the gallbladder – a small, organ that stores bile, located on the right side of your abdomen beneath your liver. Gallbladder cancer is uncommon.

Expert Cancer Care

Michael Chuong, M.D., is the Institute’s lead physician for proton therapy – a highly advanced form of radiation technology that targets cancer cells with pencil-beam scanning precision while sparing the surrounding healthy tissue. His clinical specialty and research focus is on the use of radiation therapy to treat gastrointestinal cancers such as bile duct cancer.

Bile Duct Cancer Risk Factors

People with the following conditions tend to have a higher risk of bile duct cancer:

  • Biliary parasites
  • Chronic hepatitis C
  • Congenital bile duct cysts
  • Diabetes
  • Ulcerative colitis

Gallbladder Cancer Risk Factors

  • Over age 70
  • History of gallstones, chronic inflammation or polyps
  • Porcelain gallbladder (calcium deposits)
  • Typhoid
  • Obesity
  • Family history of gallbladder cancer

Symptoms of Bile Duct and Gallbladder Cancers

Bile duct and gallbladder cancers rarely cause symptoms until they have reached an advanced stage.

Symptoms may include:
  • Abdominal mass, pain or bloating
  • Fever
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes)
  • Lack of appetite and weight loss
  • Light-colored stools and dark urine
  • Nausea

Our cancer specialists have expertise in identifying the correct tumor type, location, extent and stage. A thorough and accurate cancer diagnosis is the first step in developing an individualized cancer treatment plan. And precise diagnosis often improves your chances for a successful outcome.

If your doctor suspects cancer, he or she will perform a physical exam and review your health history, including lifestyle habits and family history. You also may have one or more of the following diagnostic tests:

  • Laboratory tests, to determine liver and gallbladder function and check for tumor markers
  • Imaging tests, such as ultrasound, X-rays, CT and MRI scans. Endoscopy (ERCP)
  • Biopsy, to obtain a tissue sample for analysis

Treatment for bile duct and gallbladder cancers may include a combination of therapies, such as:

  • Chemotherapy, to destroy cancer cells and control their growth
  • Radiation therapy, using high-energy radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells
  • Proton therapy, using precise proton-beam therapy to irradiate cancer cells Stent placement, to relieve blockages
  • Surgery, including minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic surgery
  • Targeted therapy, which uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific types of cancer cells, blocking their growth and spread
  • Clinical trials​, may offer the opportunity to try new therapies

Your comprehensive care plan also will include psychosocial counseling, pain management treatments, integrative medicine therapies, nutrition and exercise counseling and rehabilitation provided by cancer care experts in our Cancer Patient Support Center.