Treatment Programs

Gallbladder Cancer

The Tucker Gosnell Center for Gastrointestinal Cancer is one of the largest and most experienced centers in New England for the treatment of gallbladder cancer.

Our multidisciplinary team of gallbladder cancer specialists provides individualized care and compassionate support services tailored to the needs of each patient. We combine clinical expertise with the most advanced medical technologies, research and clinical trials available to offer every patient the most appropriate therapies. The Cancer Center is dedicated to ensuring that patients fully understand their diagnosis and treatment options.

Patients are usually seen within one week of referral.

Innovative Approaches

The Tucker Gosnell Center for Gastrointestinal Cancer offers a collaborative and caring approach to the diagnosis and treatment of patients with confirmed or suspected gallbladder cancer. Consistently ranked as one of the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report, we provide the latest, most effective treatments including many innovative approaches to clinical care and promising new therapies, including:

  • Proton beam radiation treatment at the Francis H. Burr Northeast Proton Therapy Center, New England’s only proton radiation facility
  • Expertise in minimally invasive surgery for gallbladder cancer
  • Innovative endoscopy approaches, provided by New England’s only Advanced Endoscopy Service in collaboration with Mass General’s Digestive Healthcare Center
  • Rapid diagnosis and staging of all biopsied tumors by pathologists who sub-specialize in gallbladder tumors
  • Access to experimental therapeutic agents offered in clinical trials

Multidisciplinary Patient CareOur team approach ensures that every patient benefits from an individualized, coordinated and compassionate treatment plan, with care provided by leading experts from many specialties. We consider patients, their family and friends involved in their care to be part of this team. Depending on the stage and other characteristics of your gallbladder cancer, this treatment plan may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of these therapies. Physicians and other caregivers meet together regularly as a team to review films and discuss all cases to ensure the best possible treatment planning.

Your care team may include:

  • Pathologists and diagnostic radiologists who sub-specialize in gastrointestinal cancers to provide a precise diagnosis of your cancer
  • Surgeons and Surgical Oncologists who are leading the way in performing and developing the most advanced surgical approaches for gallbladder cancer
  • Gastroenterologists specializing in digestive health
  • Endoscopists who specialize in minimally invasive interventional procedures, such as radiofrequency abalation and chemoembolization
  • Medical Oncologists who plan the most effective chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments
  • Radiation Oncologists who specialize in delivering the optimal therapeutic dose while protecting healthy tissue
  • Oncology nurses and nurse practitioners who care exclusively for patients with cancer
  • Oncology psychiatrists and social workers experienced in helping with the cognitive side effects of cancer and treatment, as well the emotional and spiritual aspects of the cancer experience
  • A nutritionist to help you with questions about diet and nutrition during treatment
  • Palliative care providers to improve quality of life

Members of your care team meet regularly with you and your referring physician to ensure clear communication and seamless coordination of care.

Expertise in Diagnosing and Staging Gallbladder CancerOur pathologists sub-specialize in the diagnosis of gallbladder cancer, and are internationally recognized and consulted. They participate in weekly tumor board meetings, sharing information about each patient’s unique cancer with the entire care team to help guide treatment planning.

All members of our diagnostic radiology team are nationally recognized for expertise in using the most advanced imaging tools to diagnose and stage gallbladder cancer and to detect tumor changes. Our imaging technologies include:

  • High-speed two- and three-dimensional CT studies with volumetric analyses
  • Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Intraoperative Ultrasound
  • Lymphotrophic Nanoparticle Enhanced MRI (Molecular Imaging)

Other services include:

  • Tumor perfusion imaging with CT and MRI
  • Spectral imaging with CT
  • 3D imaging for pre-surgical planning and for monitoring treatment effects

Medical OncologyFor many patients diagnosed with gallbladder cancer, administering cancer-fighting chemotherapy may be the most effective treatment. Pre-operative chemotherapy may be recommended to shrink tumors before surgery to help surgeons ensure a complete removal. Some new therapies that are currently available or in development are designed to block mutations and pathways that cause tumor cells to proliferate. By targeting tumor gene mutations with these “smart drugs,” our doctors are beginning to understand how to eradicate malignant cells in some patients' tumors without using standard treatments like traditional chemotherapy and radiation.

Excellence in Surgical CareOur team’s skill and experience performing advanced gallbladder cancer surgical procedures makes us a major referral center for complex medical problems. The team provides state-of-the-art evaluation, treatment and post-surgical services. Depending on the type and stage, gallbladder cancer may be treated by removing all the cancer (resectable) or to relieve pain and prevent complications if the tumor is widespread (unresectable). The type of surgery depends on the stage of the cancer, the location and size of the tumor, and the patient’s health. Because some gallbladder cancer may recur if only the gallbladder is removed, a more extensive operation called an extended (or radical) cholecystectomy is often performed.

Pioneering Radiation Therapies

Our radiation oncologists use the most advanced therapies to treat gallbladder cancer, many of which are available at only a few select hospitals. Radiation therapy may be given alone, or in combination with surgery and chemotherapy.

Depending on the nature of a patient’s cancer, our team may suggest:

  • External radiation (external beam therapy), a treatment that precisely sends high levels of radiation directly to the cancer cells.
  • Intraoperative radiation, in which radiation is given inside the body as close to the cancer as possible. In some cases, external radiation therapy is used along with this treatment
  • Proton beam radiation, a precise form of radiation therapy designed to target tumors while helping to preserve surrounding healthy tissue

Learn more about radiation therapy.

Treating Cancer through Clinical TrialsThe Cancer Center is a leading provider of clinical trails in New England for gallbladder cancer, making clinical trial evaluation of new therapies a key treatment option. The goal of the clinical trial is to seek and answer scientific questions and to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, or treat cancer.

Search our open clinical trials.

Developing Better Therapies through ResearchOur research program in gallbladder cancer is a multifaceted effort designed to better understand cancer biology, discover new therapies and improve treatment. The research program in gallbladder and all GI cancers is one of New England’s largest, allowing us to bring promising new treatments to patients as quickly as possible.

Learn more about our research.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides cancer patients and their families with information and resources for living with cancer.

Oncology Chaplaincy

Our oncology chaplain is familiar with the unique needs of those with cancer.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Room at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides cancer patients and their families with information and resources for living with cancer.

Oncology Chaplaincy

Our oncology chaplain is familiar with the unique needs of those with cancer.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

Cancer Center

55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 617-726-5130

Discover the Cancer Center patient experience

Our approach to patient care unites cancer specialists across the hospital to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient, ensuring the best possible outcomes.