A 21-year analysis of stage I gallbladder carcinoma: is cholecystectomy alone adequate?


  • This manuscript was presented at the annual AHPBA meeting, Miami, 7–11 March 2012 and at the 10th World IHPBA Congress, Paris 1–5 July 2012.


Anton J. Bilchik, John Wayne Cancer Institute, 2200 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA 90404, USA. Tel: + 1 310 449 5206; Fax: + 1 310 582 5242; E-mail: bilchika@jwci.org



Gallbladder carcinoma (GBC) is a rare disease that is often diagnosed incidentally in its early stages. Simple cholecystectomy is considered the standard treatment for stage I GBC. This study was conducted in a large cohort of patients with stage I GBC to test the hypothesis that the extent of surgery affects survival.


The National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database was queried to identify patients in whom microscopically confirmed, localized (stage I) GBC was diagnosed between 1988 and 2008. Surgical treatment was categorized as cholecystectomy alone, cholecystectomy with lymph node dissection (C + LN) or radical cholecystectomy (RC). Age, gender, race, ethnicity, T1 sub-stage [T1a, T1b, T1NOS (T1 not otherwise specified)], radiation treatment, extent of surgery, cause of death and survival were assessed by log-rank and Cox's regression analyses.


Of 2788 patients with localized GBC, 1115 (40.0%) had pathologically confirmed T1a, T1b or T1NOS cancer. At a median follow-up of 22 months, 288 (25.8%) had died of GBC. Five-year survival rates associated with cholecystectomy, C + LN and RC were 50%, 70% and 79%, respectively (P < 0.001). Multivariate analysis showed that surgical treatment and younger age were predictive of improved disease-specific survival (P < 0.001), whereas radiation therapy portended worse survival (P = 0.013).


In the largest series of patients with stage I GBC to be reported, survival was significantly impacted by the extent of surgery (LN dissection and RC). Cholecystectomy alone is inadequate in stage I GBC and its use as standard treatment should be reconsidered.