Evolving treatment strategies for gallbladder cancer

Matthew T. Hueman, Charles M. Vollmer, Timothy M. Pawlik

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

149 Scopus citations


Gallbladder cancer is an uncommon cancer that has traditionally been associated with a poor prognosis. In the era of laparoscopic cholecystectomy, incidental gallbladder cancer has dramatically increased and now constitutes the major way patients present with gallbladder cancer. While patients with incidental gallbladder cancer have a better survival than patients with nonincidental gallbladder cancer, incidental gallbladder cancer can be associated with a varied prognosis. Imaging with computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and [18]F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET), as well as diagnostic laparoscopy, all have varying roles in the workup of patients with incidental gallbladder cancer. For patients with T1b, T2, and T3 incidental gallbladder cancer re-resection is generally recommended. At re-exploration, many patients with incidental gallbladder cancer will have residual disease. Definitive oncologic management requires re-resection of the liver, portal lymphadenectomy, and attention to the common bile duct. The extent of the hepatic resection should be dictated by the ability to achieve a microscopically negative (R0) margin. Routine resection of the common bile duct is unnecessary but should be undertaken in the setting of a positive cystic duct margin. If an incidental gallbladder cancer is discovered at the time of surgery, whether the surgeon should directly proceed with a more definitive oncologic operation should depend on the surgeon's skill-set and experience. Gallbladder cancer has a propensity to recur. Although data for adjuvant therapy following resection are limited, some data do suggest a survival benefit for adjuvant chemoradiation therapy. Management of patients with gallbladder cancer requires a multidisciplinary approach with input from a surgeon skilled in hepatobiliary surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2101-2115
Number of pages15
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


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