Gallbladder cancer

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Treatments for unresectable gallbladder cancer

Unresectable means that the cancer cannot be completely removed with surgery. The following are treatment options for unresectable gallbladder cancer. Your healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your needs and work with you to develop a treatment plan.

When gallbladder cancer is widespread and cannot be removed with surgery, you may be offered the following options. These procedures make you feel better rather than treat the cancer. They relieve symptoms such as jaundice and pain.


Surgery or other procedures that may be done include:

  • inserting a small metal or plastic tube (stent) to keep the bile duct open
  • inserting a tube (catheter) to help drain bile
  • creating a different drainage flow for bile around a blockage (a biliary bypass)

Find out more about surgery.


Chemotherapy may be offered to people with unresectable gallbladder cancer if they are well enough. This may include single chemotherapy drugs or combinations of drugs to try to slow the growth of the cancer.

Radiation therapy

External beam radiation therapy, with or without chemotherapy, may be offered to relieve pain and other symptoms.

If you can’t have or don’t want cancer treatment

If you can’t have or don’t want cancer treatment, talk to your healthcare team. They can help you choose care and treatment for advanced cancer.

Clinical trials

A few clinical trials in Canada are open to people with gallbladder cancer. Clinical trials look at new and better ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.