Risk of cholecystitis in patients with cancer: a population-based cohort study in Denmark

Cancer. 2008 Dec 15;113(12):3410-9. doi: 10.1002/cncr.23961.


Background: To the authors' knowledge, little information is available regarding the incidence of cholecystitis among patients with cancer.

Methods: The authors conducted a population-based historical cohort study of 51,228 patients with incident cancer, identified in medical databases of western Denmark between 1995 and 2003. A general population comparison cohort of 512,280 persons was assembled using the Danish Civil Registration System. The occurrence of cholecystitis in the 2 groups was determined by linkage to the regional Hospital Discharge Registry.

Results: In all, 230 incident diagnoses of cholecystitis were identified in the cancer cohort during 130,185 person-years (median follow-up time: 1.6 years), corresponding to an incidence rate of 1.8 of 1000 person-years. After adjustment for confounders, the relative risk (RR) for cholecystitis among cancer patients compared with the general population cohort was 1.38 (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.20-1.58). Overall, the RR for cholecystitis was doubled during the first 6 months after cancer diagnosis (RR = 1.95; 95% CI, 1.50-2.54), after which the RR declined but remained greater than 1 throughout the rest of the follow-up period (RR = 1.23; 95% CI, 1.05-1.45). Cancer patients between the ages of 51 and 70 years had the highest risk increase for cholecystitis compared with other age groups. During the first 6 months after a cancer diagnosis, pancreatic cancers (12 cholecystitis events; RR = 9.44 [95% CI, 5.18-17.18]) and colorectal cancers (10 cholecystitis events; RR = 4.98 [95% CI, 2.65-9.34]) were found to be associated with the greatest cholecystitis risk increase compared with other tumor types. After 6 months, most cancers were associated with a relatively small increased risk, although there was an RR of 4.72 (95% CI, 1.99-11.21) based on 5 cholecystitis events among thyroid cancer patients.

Conclusions: The results of the current study indicate that cholecystitis occurs more frequently among cancer patients than in the general population, particularly within the first 6 months after a cancer diagnosis. Clinicians who treat cancer patients should remain vigilant about this type of infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cholecystitis / complications*
  • Cholecystitis / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Population Groups
  • Risk Assessment