Medical Therapy for Gallbladder and Bile Duct Cancers

Medical Treatment

Medical treatment of gallbladder and bile duct cancers may be part of your treatment plan if your cancer:

  • Was diagnosed at a more advanced stage and cannot be removed surgically
  • Is borderline operable
  • Is at high risk for recurrence


Renuka Iyer, MD

"Our team coordinates chemotherapy delivery with two main goals: prolonging the patient’s life while maintaining quality of life. At Roswell Park, all these specialists work together as a team." — Renuka Iyer, MD

Chemotherapy uses powerful anticancer drugs to attack and kill cancer cells. These treatments may slow a cancer tumor’s growth, shrink the tumor or downsize it to improve the possibility for a complete surgical removal, and better outcome. The anticancer agents our oncologists use for gallbladder and bile duct cancers include:

  • Gemcitabine
  • Capecitabine
  • Cisplatin
  • Oxaliplatin
  • 5-Flurouracil

Roswell Park medical oncologists use specific combinations of chemotherapy agents that are often more effective when used together. If you need chemotherapy, the treatment team will choose the drugs, or combination of drugs, best for your individual case.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy uses drugs or other substances that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules involved in tumor growth and progression. These specific molecules, or molecular targets, are found only in the cancer cells or tumor. The drugs aimed at them harm only the targets, sparing healthy cells and tissue.

Roswell Park offers access to some targeted therapies through clinical trials. Some of these include:

  • A study of the targeted therapy bevacizumabin combination with gemcitabine and capecitabine for patients with advanced biliary tract cancers to assess whether circulating tumor cells could help determine prognosis
  • Newer therapies, using nanoparticle taxanes and oral agents