Gall bladder cancer is also known as cholangiocarcinoma and is a malignant growth of the biliary duct system and bile ducts, and may originate either in the liver or outside it. The majority of these tumours are adenocarcinomas, while about 10% are made up of squamous cell tumours. These are slow growing tumours which usually result from chronic infection, chronic inflammation or damage to the biliary duct system. Common symptoms include jaundice, clay-colored stools, dark urine, severe itching, weight loss, abdominal pain, and – in the later stages – a palpable lump in the right upper side of the abdomen.
Gall bladder cancer can be diagnosed with the help of various tests such as liver function tests, ultrasound examination, CT scan, PET scan, MRI, ERCP, brush cytology, and various tumour markers. The tumour is classified according to the TNM (tumour, lymph node, and metastasis) mode of classification or graded from 0 to 4, which indicate the extent and spread of the tumour as well as the overall prognosis. At the time of diagnosis, more than 90% of patients are not eligible for curative surgery, and in spite of aggressive therapy, the overall survival for advanced gall bladder cancer is just about six months. Stent implantation, photodynamic therapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are usually used as palliative measures.
Ayurvedic herbal treatment can be judiciously utilised in the successful management and treatment of gall bladder cancer in order to bring about a remission of the tumour, and significantly improve the survival of the affected individual. Herbal medicines which have a specific action on the liver and gall bladder are used in the management of this condition. These medicines act on the gall bladder tumour and bring about a significant reduction in its size within a short span of a few months. Most gall bladder patients, at the time of presentation, have complications like fistula formation, with bile flowing through the fistula. These complications can be managed on an emergency basis with the help of simple herbal medicines which heal the fistula and redirect the bile into the intestines.
Herbal medicines are also used to prevent the spread of the gall bladder tumour into the surrounding parts of the abdomen as well as prevent metastasis to other parts of the body. Some medicines which are useful in the management of gall bladder cancer include Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Yashtimadhuk (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Punarnava (Boerhaavia diffusa), Kalmegh (Andrographis paniculata), Bhumiamalaki (Phyllanthus niruri), Arogyavardhini, Punarnavadi Qadha, and Varunadi Qadha. In addition to treatment which is specific for gall bladder cancer, immunomodulatory treatment is also a must in order to boost the immune status of the affected individual. The building up of a strong immune system helps to bring about a faster therapeutic response, a longer survival, and improved chances of a complete remission of the tumour.
Most individuals affected with gall bladder cancer require aggressive Ayurvedic herbal treatment for about 9 to15 months in order to get significant improvement in the condition. Regular Ayurvedic treatment on a long-term basis can help in improving the chances for survival, and the earlier treatment is instituted, the better. Depending upon the presentation of symptoms and the severity of the cancer, Ayurvedic treatment needs to the tailor-made for each individual affected with this condition, in order to derive maximum benefit from treatment. Ayurvedic herbal treatment undoubtedly has a definite role to play in the management and treatment of gall bladder cancer.