Article Abstract

Gallbladder cancer

Authors: Mislav Rakic, Leonardo Patrlj, Mario Kopljar, Robert Klicek, Marijan Kolovrat, Bozo Loncar, Zeljko Busic


Gallbladder cancer is the fifth most common cancer involving gastrointestinal tract, but it is the most common malignancy of the biliary tract, accounting for 80-95% of biliary tract cancers. This tumor is a highly lethal disease with an overall 5-year survival of less than 5% and mean survival mere than 6 months. An early diagnosis is essential as this malignancy progresses silently with a late diagnosis. The percentage of patients diagnosed to have gallbladder cancer after simple cholecystectomy for presumed gallbladder stone disease is 0.5-1.5%. Patients with preoperative suspicion of gallbladder cancer should not be treated by laparoscopy. Epidemiological studies have identified striking geographic and ethnic disparities—inordinately high occurrence in American Indians, elevated in Southeast Asia, yet quite low elsewhere in the Americas and the world. Environmental triggers play a critical role in eliciting cancer developing in the gallbladder, best exemplified by cholelithiasis and chronic inflammation from biliary tract and parasitic infections. Improved imaging modalities and improved radical aggressive surgical approach in the last decade has improved outcomes and helped prolong survival in patients with gallbladder cancer. The overall 5-year survival for patients with gallbladder cancer who underwent R0 curative resection was from 21% to 69%. In the future, the development of potential diagnostic markers for disease will yield screening opportunities for those at risk either with ethnic susceptibility or known anatomic anomalies of the biliary tract.