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Gallbladder cancer

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Prognosis and survival for gallbladder cancer

People with gallbladder cancer may have questions about their prognosis and survival. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with a person's medical history, type of cancer, stage, characteristics of the cancer, treatments chosen and response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

A prognosis is the doctor's best estimate of how cancer will affect a person, and how it will respond to treatment. A prognostic factor is an aspect of the cancer or a characteristic of the person that the doctor will consider when making a prognosis. A predictive factor influences how a cancer will respond to a certain treatment. Prognostic and predictive factors are often discussed together and they both play a part in deciding on a treatment plan and a prognosis.

The following are prognostic factors for gallbladder cancer.

Stage

The stage of gallbladder cancer is the most important factor in determining prognosis. People with early stage gallbladder cancer have a better prognosis than those with advanced gallbladder cancer. Only about 10% of people with gallbladder cancer present with early stage disease. Most people with gallbladder cancer have advanced disease when they are diagnosed.

  • Tumours that are confined completely to the innermost layer of gallbladder (mucosa) have the most favourable outcome.
  • Tumours that have spread through the gallbladder wall and into nearby lymph nodes or organs have a less favourable prognosis.
  • Tumours that have spread or "seeded" cancer cells throughout the abdominal cavity have a poor prognosis.

Surgical removal of tumour

Surgery is the most effective treatment for gallbladder cancer. However, complete removal of the tumour is possible only in about 25% of people with gallbladder cancer.

  • Tumours that can be completely removed by surgery (resectable) have a more favourable prognosis.
  • Tumours that cannot be removed by surgery (unresectable) have a poorer prognosis.

Type of tumour

Papillary adenocarcinomas have a more favourable prognosis than other types of gallbladder cancer.

Grade

Gallbladder tumours that are slow growing (low grade) have a more favourable prognosis than fast growing (high-grade) tumours.

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