Gallbladder cancer is a rare malignancy burdened by poor prognosis with an estimated 5-year survival of 5% to 13% due to late presentation, early infiltration of surrounding tissues, and lack of successful treatments. The only curative approach is surgery; however, more than 50% of cases are unresectable at the time of diagnosis. Endoscopy represents, together with surgery and chemotherapy, an available palliative option in advanced gallbladder cancers not eligible for curative treatments. Cholangitis, jaundice, gastric outlet obstruction, and pain are common complications of advanced gallbladder cancer that may need endoscopic management in order to improve the overall survival and the patients’ quality of life. Endoscopic biliary drainage is frequently performed to manage cholangitis and jaundice. ERCP is generally the preferred technique allowing the placement of a plastic stent or a self-expandable metal stent depending on the singular clinical case. EUS-guided biliary drainage is an available alternative for patients not amenable to ERCP drainage (e.g., altered anatomy). Gastric outlet obstruction is another rare complication of gallbladder malignancy growing in contact with the duodenal wall and causing its compression. Endoscopy is a less invasive alternative to surgery, offering different options such as an intraluminal self-expandable metal stent or EUS-guided gastroenteroanastomosis. Abdominal pain associated with cancer progression is generally managed with medical treatments; however, for incoercible pain, EUS-guided celiac plexus neurolysis has been described as an effective and safe treatment. Locoregional treatments, such as radiofrequency ablation (RFA), photodynamic therapy (PDT), and intraluminal brachytherapy (IBT), have been described in the control of disease progression; however, their role in daily clinical practice has not been established yet. The aim of this study is to perform a review of the literature in order to assess the role of endoscopy and the available techniques in the palliative therapy of advanced gallbladder malignancy.
- endoscopic palliation
- gallbladder cancer