Gallbladder Cancer Follow-up

Updated: Dec 12, 2019
  • Author: Mary Denshaw-Burke, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: N Joseph Espat, MD, MS, FACS  more...
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Follow-up

Further Outpatient Care

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  • Because survival is usually very short in patients with advanced disease, close follow-up is essential to preserve the best quality of life. For patients with earlier stage disease who are treated with surgery and postoperative radiation therapy and chemotherapy, intermittent posttreatment imaging studies can be considered (particularly in the first few years).

  • Hospice referral is important early in the disease course for patients with metastatic disease because their survival is typically 6 months or less.

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Deterrence/Prevention

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  • Because a calcified (porcelain) gallbladder has up to a 25% incidence of associated gallbladder cancer, this is an indication for a cholecystectomy even in an asymptomatic patient.

  • A small percentage (< 10%) of patients with gallbladder polyps are found to have underlying gallbladder cancer. The risk increases with age and the size of the polyp. A cholecystectomy should be considered if a gallbladder polyp greater than 1 cm in size is found in a patient older than 50 years.

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Prognosis

Survival at 5 years is correlated with stage of disease at presentation. Only 10-20% of patients present with localized disease. The remainder present with regional or distant spread. From 1989 to 1996, 5-year survival in patients with primary gallbladder cancer was 50% for stage I disease and 2% for stage IV disease. [34]

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