Skip to Main Content

  • • 5% overall survival

    • Risk factors

    • -Gallstones (70-90% of patients have gallstones)

      -Native American heritage

      -Stones > 3 cm (10-fold increased risk)

      -Porcelain gallbladder (at least 25% develop cancer)

      -Choledochal cyst

      -Gallbladder adenoma > 1 cm

    • 0.5% of patients with cholelithiasis have adenocarcinoma

    • 1% of patients undergoing elective cholecystectomy have unsuspected adenocarcinoma identified

    • Only 25% of patients have chance for curative resection


  • • 6000-7000 cases annually

    • 3:1 female:male ratio

    • Peak incidence in seventh decade

    • Risk is at least 5% among Native Americans who have gallstones

Symptoms and Signs

  • • Biliary colic or cholecystitis

    • Jaundice

    • Weight loss

    • Anorexia

    • Palpable right upper quadrant mass

    • Hepatomegaly

    • Ascites

Laboratory Findings

  • • Leukocytosis

    • Hyperbilirubinemia

    • Elevated alkaline phosphatase

    • Elevated transaminases

    • Elevated carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA)

Imaging Findings

  • Right upper quadrant US

    • -Gallbladder inflammation and/or gallstones

      -Occasional gallbladder mass

      -Portal or cystic lymphadenopathy

      -Dilated common bile duct (CBD)

      -Direct tumor extension into liver

    CT or MRI

    • -Gallbladder mass (90% sensitive) with occasional portal lymphadenopathy

      -Hepatic extension of tumor

    ERCP or percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PTC)

    • -Intraluminal gallbladder mass

      -Occasional CBD dilatation

      -Intraluminal extension of tumor

  • • Lymph node involvement

    • Extension into extrahepatic biliary tree

    • Extension into hepatic parenchyma

  • • History and physical exam

    • CBC

    • Liver function tests

    • Right upper quadrant US

    • Abdominal CT or MRI

    • CEA level


  • • Cholecystectomy (T1 tumors—limited to muscular wall)

    • Cholecystectomy with segment 4b, 5 liver resection and portal lymphadenectomy (T2 tumors—invasion to perimuscular tissue but not to serosa)

    • Right extended hepatectomy (for some T3 and T4s and recurrence after cholecystectomy or 4b, 5 segmental resection)

    • Right extended hepatectomy and resection of CBD followed by hepaticojejunostomy for invasion into CBD

Treatment Monitoring

  • • CEA levels

    • US or CT scanning


  • • Biliary leak or injury

    • Anastomotic leak or stricture

    • Liver failure

    • Perihepatic infection

    • Disease recurrence


  • • 5-year survival with resection for curative intent, 17%

    • > 95% survival for T1 tumors treated with cholecystectomy

    • Range from 70% to > 90% for T2 and T3 if 4b and 5 segment resections performed and no nodal involvement


Kondo S et al. Regional and para-aortic lymphadenectomy in radical surgery for advanced gallbladder carcinoma. Br J Surg. 2000;87:418.  [PubMed: 10759735]

Practice Guidelines

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.