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Gallbladder Cancer

Your gallbladder stores bile, a substance your liver makes to help digest fat. Your bile duct carries it from your liver to your gallbladder and then, when you need it for digestion, to your small intestine. Gallbladder cancer is rare, but the experienced doctors at Rush have expertise in treating it.

Gallbladder cancer: what you should know

  • Though gallbladder cancer is uncommon, women and Native Americans have a slightly higher risk of developing it, compared to other groups.
  • Gallbladder cancer is often difficult to detect in its early stages. Because it is often found late, it can be difficult to treat.
  • Rush has the tools to fight gallbladder cancer on more than one front. Doctors at Rush aim to help patients live longer, feel better and — whenever possible — beat the cancer.

How can I get help for gallbladder cancer?

These are some common symptoms of gallbladder cancer:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes)
  • Weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting

Most of the time, having these symptoms does not mean you have gallbladder cancer. Other conditions have similar symptoms. See a doctor if you have any of these symptoms and it does not go away.

If you are diagnosed with gallbladder cancer, your doctor will likely refer to you a specialist in liver and gastrointestinal cancers who can determine the best next steps for diagnosis and treatment.

Care for gallbladder cancer at Rush

The kind of treatment you need will depend on the type and stage of your cancer, as well as your overall health and any other conditions you may have. Doctors at Rush work with patients — and with each other — to determine the best course of treatment, and they welcome patients seeking second opinions.

You care at Rush may involve one or more of the following:

  • Surgery to remove the cancer.
  • Chemotherapy, or cancer-fighting drugs.
  • Radiation therapy, which at Rush usually involves advanced technologies that treat  the cancer while protecting surrounding tissue.
  • Complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, massage and other options to help you cope with pain, loss of energy and other challenges related to gallbladder cancer.

Why choose Rush for gallbladder cancer care

  • U.S. News & World Report ranks Rush among the best hospitals in the country for cancer care.
  • Many patients receive care at the Rush University Cancer Center’s Coleman Foundation Comprehensive Clinic for Gastrointestinal Cancers. At the clinic, specialists in several areas combine their expertise to consider all the options and create a treatment plan tailored to the patient’s needs.
  • The Rush University Cancer Center has been awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. Rush has received this award, which is given every three years, each time it has been evaluated by the Commission on Cancer.
  • The Rush University Cancer Center is a hub of cancer research. Doctors and researchers at Rush are enrolling patients in trials of drugs and other treatments that might not be widely available.

Departments and programs that treat this condition