Gallbladder cancer is the most common cancer of the biliary tract and has a particularly high incidence in Chile, Japan, and northern India. Many Japanese surgeons have reported that aggressive surgery improves the outcome of patients with gallbladder cancer. Differences in survival rates between Japan and other countries have been noted. The objective of this study was to determine whether there were any changes over time in the incidence, therapeutic approach, stage at diagnosis, or prognosis of gallbladder cancer in an unselected, community-based series of patients in Japan.
In total, 4774 patients with gallbladder cancer were analyzed between 1988 and 1997 based on data from the Biliary Tract Cancer Registration Committee of the Japanese Society of Biliary Surgery.
Survival was related closely to surgical stage, with 5-year survival rates of 77% for patients with stage I disease, 60% for patients with stage II disease, 29% for patients with stage III disease, 12% for patients with stage IVA disease, and 3% for patients with stage IVB disease. Patient age also affected survival. The survival rate for patients aged <49 years was significantly better compared with the survival rate for patients in the other groups (P < .05). The 5-year survival rate for patients aged <49 years was 38%. The survival rate for patients aged >79 years was significantly worse compared with the survival rate for patients in the other 4 groups (P < .01). The 5-year survival rate for patients aged >79 years was 21%. Stratifying patients by stage according to the Japanese Society of Biliary Surgery classification showed that women maintained a survival advantage over men among patients with stage I and II disease. Adjuvant chemotherapy did not provide a survival benefit. There were no apparent changes in patient demographics between the period from 1988 to 1992 and the period from 1993 to 1997.
For this study, the authors evaluated the gallbladder cancer trends in Japan. The Classification of Biliary Tract Carcinoma proposed by the Japanese Society of Biliary Surgery reflected the prognosis of patients with gallbladder cancer. Patient outcomes were affected by patient age and sex. No substantial differences in patient survival were apparent over the 10-year study period. The data did not support any advantage for aggressive surgical resection and adjuvant chemotherapy. Further analysis of operative procedures will be necessary to determine conclusively whether there is any survival advantage from aggressive surgery in patients with advanced gallbladder cancer. Cancer 2007. © 2007 American Cancer Society.