Survival statistics for gallbladder cancer | Cancer Research UK
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A quick guide to what's on this page

Statistics and outlook for gallbladder cancer

Outlook means your chances of getting better. Your doctor may call this your prognosis. With gallbladder cancer, the likely outcome depends on how advanced the cancer is when it is diagnosed (the stage).

The statistics we use are taken from a variety of sources, including the opinions and experience of the experts who check every section of this website. They are intended as a general guide only. For the more complete picture in your case, you’d have to speak to your own specialist.

We include statistics because people ask for them, but not everyone wishes to read this type of information. If you think you would like to have this information, then read on down the page. If you don't want to read it or aren't sure remember you can skip it, you can always come back to it.

How reliable are cancer statistics?

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. The same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. The statistics cannot tell you about the different treatments people may have had, or how that treatment may have affected their prognosis. There are many individual factors that will affect your treatment and your outlook.

 

CR PDF Icon View a summary of treating gallbladder cancer.

 

What you need to know about the information on this page

This page has quite detailed information about the survival rates for different stages of gallbladder cancer. People ask us for this information but not everyone diagnosed with cancer wants to read it. If you are not sure whether you want to know at the moment, you can always come back to it later.

The statistics here are intended as a general guide and can't tell you what is likely to happen in your individual case.

 

Cancer statistics in general

Our section on incidence, mortality and survival statistics explains the different types of cancer statistics. Unless you are very familiar with medical statistics, it might help to read this before you read the statistics below.

Remember – statistics are averages based on large numbers of people. They cannot predict exactly what will happen to you. No two patients are exactly alike and response to treatment also varies from one person to another.

You may hear doctors use the term 5 year survival. This does not mean you will only live 5 years. It relates to the number of people who are alive 5 years after diagnosis. Doctors follow what happens to people for at least 5 years after treatment in any research study. This is because there is only a small chance of the cancer coming back more than 5 years after treatment. Doctors do not like to say these people are cured because there is that small chance. So they use the term 5 year survival instead.

Please note – In the UK there are no national statistics available for the overall outlook for gallbladder cancer, or for the different stages of cancer or treatments that people have had. The statistics presented here are international. They are pulled together from a variety of different sources, including the opinions and experience of the experts who check our information. We give statistics because people ask us for them. But they are only intended as a general guide and can't tell you what will happen in your individual case.

 

Overall outlook

There are no national statistics available for gallbladder cancer survival in the UK. Unfortunately, the overall outlook for gallbladder cancer is not very good. Most medical papers suggest that only around 10 out of 100 people with gallbladder cancer (10%) will survive for 5 years or more.

As with many other types of cancer, the outcome depends on how advanced your cancer is when it is diagnosed. In other words, the stage of your cancer. Sadly, for most people gallbladder does not have a very good outlook. By the time it is diagnosed, it is often in the later stages and treatment is unlikely to cure it.

 

Outlook by stage

The statistics below are American. They are based on a large number of people treated for gallbladder cancer between 1989 and 1996. 

For people who have cancer just in the gallbladder lining (stage 0), 80 out of 100 (80%) survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis. But if the cancer has spread into the muscle (stage 1 gallbladder cancer) only 50 in 100 people (50%) will survive for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed. 

Some surgeons believe that taking out nearby lymph nodes and some liver tissue during the operation helps stop the cancer coming back. They believe this will improve the long term outcome for people with stage 1 gallbladder cancer. This operation is called an extended cholecystectomy

Unfortunately the outlook is less good for people with  stage 2 gallbladder cancer. More than 25 out of 100 (25%) of people with survive for 5 years or more after diagnosis. If you have an extended cholecystectomy or more extensive surgery, then you may have a slightly better chance than this.

In stage 3 gallbladder cancer and stage 4 gallbladder cancer the cancer has spread into surrounding tissue or lymph nodes and cannot usually be removed. In this situation treatment can be given to control the cancer for some time.  Fewer than 10 in 100 people with stage 3 or 4 gallbladder cancer (10%) will survive for 5 years or more. 

 

Reliability of cancer statistics

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. For example, the same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. The statistics are not detailed enough to tell you about the different treatments people may have had. And how that treatment may have affected their outlook. Many individual factors will determine your treatment and prognosis.

 

Clinical trials

Research evidence shows that taking part in clinical trials may improve outlook. No one is completely sure why this is. It is probably partly to do with your doctors and nurses monitoring you more closely if you are in a trial. For example, you may have more scans and blood tests. There is more information in our trials and research section. You can also search our clinical trial database to find trials for cancer of the gallbladder. 

 

More detailed statistics

If you would like to read more about survival rates and other statistics for gallbladder cancer, go to our CancerStats page:

https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/gallbladder-cancer

 

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Updated: 11 June 2014