Oncologists often recommend chemotherapy for patients with gallbladder cancer. Chemotherapy medications work by destroying cells that are dividing at an unusually rapid pace. Certain chemotherapy medications, such as Cisplatin, Gemcitabine and 5-flourouracil, are especially effective in the treatment of gallbladder cancer, and can sometimes be combined to maximize their anti-cancerous effects. These medications are typically administered in cycles that last for several weeks, with one to two weeks in between to allow a patient’s body to recover. This schedule helps provide intermittent relief from any side effects of chemotherapy, which can occur when the medications interfere with normal, healthy cells.
When using chemotherapy to treat gallbladder cancer, oncologists might:
- Administer chemotherapy before surgery to shrink a tumor and make it easier to remove
- Administer chemotherapy after surgery to destroy any cancerous cells that might remain in the body
- Use chemotherapy to treat tumors that cannot be surgically removed (this can help alleviate symptoms)
- Inject the medications directly into the artery that feeds a tumor (this delivers an increased amount of medication directly to the tumor while reducing the likelihood of exposing healthy tissues to potent chemotherapy medications)
Moffitt Cancer Center’s expert medical oncologists assess our patients’ needs to determine which strategies are most appropriate. Our tumor board meets each week to review each patient’s response to treatment, making any necessary adjustments to improve his or her outcome and quality of life.
At Moffitt, we offer the latest chemotherapy drugs and combinations of drugs, as well as a complete range of supportive care services to assist with side effect management. Additionally, our clinical trials program offers patients opportunities to access promising new gallbladder cancer medications before they are widely available elsewhere.