Chemotherapy is a drug or a combination of drugs that kills cancer cells wherever they are in the body. Doctors may give chemotherapy before surgery to shrink a gallbladder tumor. This is called neoadjuvant therapy. Chemotherapy given after surgery to destroy any cancer cells that may remain is called adjuvant therapy.
The standard chemotherapy drugs for gallbladder cancer are gemcitabine (Gemzar®) and cisplatin. Other drugs sometimes used include fluorouracil (also called 5-FU), oxaliplatin (Eloxatin®), and capecitabine (Xeloda®). Our doctors will carefully tailor treatment to make sure that it’s as effective as possible while helping maintain quality of life.
If gallbladder cancer has spread, chemotherapy may be given as the main treatment if surgery is not an option. Chemotherapy is also given to relieve symptoms due to cancer, such as a tumor that is pressing on a nerve and causing pain.