Gallbladder cancer (GBC): 10-year experience at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre (MSKCC)

J Surg Oncol. 2008 Dec 1;98(7):485-9. doi: 10.1002/jso.21141.


Background: The incidence of gallbladder cancer (GBC) in the US is 1.2/100,000. This report examines the patterns of presentation, adjuvant treatment and survival of a large cohort of patients with GBC evaluated at MSKCC over a 10-year period.

Methods: A retrospective analysis of patients referred to MSKCC with a diagnosis of GBC between January 1995 and December 2005 was performed. Patients were identified from the MSKCC cancer registry. Information extracted included, demographics, clinical and pathological stage, surgical management, pathology, adjuvant and palliative therapy, date of relapse, death or last follow-up. Date of diagnosis was defined as date of surgery or biopsy. Survival curves were estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method and compared using the log-rank test.

Results: Four hundred thirty-five GBC cases were identified: 285 (65.5%) females,150 (34.5%) males. Median age 67 years (range 28-100). Pathology: 88% adenocarcinoma, 4% squamous, 3% neuroendocrine, 2% sarcoma. 36.6% presented as AJCC Stage IV. 47% were discovered incidentally at laparoscopic cholecystectomy. One hundred thirty-six of these were re-explored, of whom 100 (73.5%) had residual disease. Of those who underwent curative resections (N = 123), 8 (6.5%) received adjuvant chemotherapy, 8 (6.5%) chemoradiation alone and 8 (6.5%) both chemoradiation and systemic chemotherapy. Median overall survival for the cohort was 10.3 months (95% CI 8.8-11.8) with a median follow up of 26.6 months. The median survival for those presenting with stage Ia-III disease was 12.9 months (95% CI 11.7-15.8 months) and 5.8 months (95% CI 4.5-6.7) for those presenting with stage IV disease. Median survival was 15.7 months (95% CI 12.4-18.4) for those discovered incidentally at laparoscopic cholecystectomy. For those who underwent re-exploration, median survival was 14.6 months (95% CI 12.6-18.3) if residual disease was present, and 72 months (95% CI 34 to infinity) if no evidence of disease. The median survival for those who received adjuvant therapy was 23.4 months (95% CI 15.7-47).

Conclusions: GBC is commonly diagnosed incidentally (47%). Re-exploration reveals a high incidence of residual disease (74%). Median survival is better for patients who have no evidence of disease on re-exploration (72 months) compared to those with residual disease detected (P < 0.0001). Overall prognosis is poor. Although we did not observe a survival benefit for those who received adjuvant therapy, the study did not have sufficient power to address this question. In addition, the number of patients who received adjuvant therapy was small with marked heterogeneity in clinical and therapeutic details, precluding any definitive conclusions being drawn. Prospective randomized trials of adjuvant therapy are needed in this disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use
  • Capecitabine
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Cholecystectomy
  • Cholecystectomy, Laparoscopic
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives
  • Deoxycytidine / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / analogs & derivatives
  • Fluorouracil / therapeutic use
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / pathology
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Gemcitabine
  • Hepatectomy
  • Humans
  • Incidental Findings
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm, Residual
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / mortality
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / pathology
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / therapy
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sarcoma / mortality
  • Sarcoma / pathology
  • Sarcoma / therapy
  • Survival Analysis


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Deoxycytidine
  • Capecitabine
  • Fluorouracil
  • Gemcitabine