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Introduction
      The diagnosis of cancer brings with them many questions and a need for clear, understandable answers. We hope this booklet will help. It provides information and useful internet links about malignancies of gallbladder and bile duct...
  Questions about cancer or its treatment? Get answers from a board-certified oncologist.   Please visit our Ask An Oncologist service.
Carcinoma of the Gallbladder and Bile Duct

Cancer of the gallbladder is a malignant tumor arising from the gallbladder. Carcinoma of the bile duct is a malignant tumor of the bile ducts within or outside the liver. While carcinoma of the gallbladder occurs more frequently, they are both uncommon malignancies. Survival rate is poor since most patients are diagnosed at a late stage in the disease.

Table of Contents:

Pathophysiology - Understand the nature of the diseases.

Dermographics and Risk Factors - Bile duct cancer and cancer of the gallbladder are associated with certain preexisting health conditions. 

Clinical Appearance and Staging - Catching the diseases in their early stages is important for their treatment.  

Diagnostic Testing - Diagnostic studies of the diseases and their procedure.

Treatment of the diseases - If found early, carcinoma of the gallbladder and bile duct are surgically curable. 

Prognosis - Understand what is the patient's prognosis after curative or palliative treatment. 

Treatment for Extrahepatic Bile Duct Cancer  - Treatment Information about treatment for bile duct cancer written for healthcare professionals.

Treatment for Gallbladder Cancer  - Treatment Information about treatment for gallbladder cancer written for healthcare professionals.

Pathophysiology of the diseases:

The gallbladder and bile ducts together form the biliary tract. Bile is manufactured by the liver to aid in the digestion of food. Bile ducts are tubular structures, similar to blood vessels, which carry the bile from the liver to the small intestine. Like the tributaries of a river, the small bile ducts in the liver converge into two large bile ducts. These join to form a large bile duct outside the liver. The gallbladder is a hollow pear-shaped organ that lies on the undersurface of the liver and connects to this duct. Bile flows into the gallbladder, where it is concentrated by the absorption of water. During times of food digestion, the gallbladder contracts to eject the concentrated bile into the large bile duct. Finally, this duct connects to the small intestine where the bile can help digest food.

Carcinoma of the gallbladder typically arises from the columnar (column-shaped) cells lining the inner surface of the gallbladder. The tumor grows and penetrates through the wall of the gallbladder, invading adjacent portions of the liver or spreading to other organs in the abdominal cavity. Caner cells also spread through lymphatic vessels to reside in lymph nodes.

Similarly, carcinoma of the bile duct usually originates from columnar cells along the inner surface of the bile ducts. A tumor may arise anywhere in the system of bile ducts, either within (intrahepatic) or outside of (extrahepatic) the liver. Bile duct tumors spread by local invasion of neighboring structures or by way of lymphatic vessels. Although these tumors are slow-growing, they can block the flow of bile through the bile ducts. This blockage can result in life-threatening infection.
____________________________________________________________
AUTHOR: Kevin Hwang, MD
Reviewed by Jiade J. Lu, MD
The Cancer Information Network
Date Modified: 04/05/02

 
 
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