Gallbladder cancer is rare and can be hard to diagnose early because of its small size and position under your liver. Most gallbladder cancers are discovered after they've grown, so it's important to receive treatment as soon as possible to prevent the cancer from spreading to other organs. Duke’s team of specialists include experts in medical and surgical oncology, gastroenterology, and interventional radiology. We work together to ensure you receive fast and precise testing and a comprehensive plan for treating your cancer.
Diagnosing Gallbladder Cancer
You may undergo several tests to confirm the presence of gallbladder cancer, determine its stage, and identify any possible spread. We also want to understand how the disease is affecting you. This allows us to create a personalized treatment plan that meets your needs.
We look for physical symptoms of gallbladder cancer. People often experience abdominal pain, nausea, and jaundice, a yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes. If your gallbladder is swollen, your provider may be able to feel the tumor and identify its location. We will discuss your medical history as it may also help our diagnosis. You may be at higher risk for gallbladder cancer if you’ve had gallstones, are a woman, or are Native American.
Blood tests will look for abnormal levels of certain enzymes or proteins and will help determine the health of your organs and whether the cancer has spread.
Advanced Imaging Tests
A tissue sample may be removed and examined to determine if cancer is present. The procedure is typically performed via a minimally invasive process known as endoscopic ultrasound. A small tube with a camera and ultrasound probe is guided down your throat to your gallbladder and surrounding organs to capture high-quality images. During the procedure, your provider may also take tissue or fluid samples to test for the presence of cancer.
Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.
Our cancer doctors work to develop new therapies and novel approaches to treating cancer and related symptoms through our clinical trials, which includes gallbladder cancer. View our ongoing clinical trials to see if you can participate in these studies.
Why Choose Duke
We offer a range of options to treat your gallbladder cancer and optimize your quality of life. Our advanced training and expertise enable us to perform complex surgeries, including liver and pancreatic surgeries, when tumors spread to other organs.
Nationally Ranked Program
We are a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and are part of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers dedicated to improving care for our patients.
Expertise in Gallbladder Cancer Treatment
Duke surgeons perform complex surgical procedures to treat gallbladder cancer that require a high degree of experience and expertise. Studies show that patients who undergo complex surgical procedures in major cancer centers like ours experience fewer surgical complications, shorter hospital stays, and a faster recovery.
In-Person and Virtual Support
Our comprehensive support services range from helping patients minimize the side effects of treatment to coping with the emotional and psychological effects of diagnosis and treatment. View our cancer support groups in our event calendar.
Overcoming Dietary Challenges
Because gastrointestinal cancers have long-term impacts on your diet and health, your care team may refer you to Duke Health nutritionists who can help you find effective ways to eat well and feel your best. In addition to these experts, our providers at Duke Health & Well-Being use an integrative approach to care that treats your mind and body.
Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our cancer program is nationally ranked, and the highest ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2021–2022.