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Gallbladder cancer

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Prognosis and survival for gallbladder cancer

If you have gallbladder cancer, you may have questions about your prognosis. A prognosis is the doctor’s best estimate of how cancer will affect someone and how it will respond to treatment. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with your medical history, the type, stage and characteristics of your cancer, the treatments chosen and the response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

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. 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 are diagnosed at the early stage. Most people with gallbladder cancer have advanced disease when they are diagnosed.

Tumours that are still in the innermost layer of the gallbladder (the 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 abdomen have a poor prognosis.

Surgical removal of tumour

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

Tumours that can be completely removed with 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 tumours that are fast growing (high grade).

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