Survival for gallbladder cancer

Survival depends on different factors. So no one can tell you exactly how long you will live.

Doctors usually work out the outlook for a certain disease by looking at large groups of people. Because this cancer is less common, survival is harder to estimate than for other, more common cancers.

Some of the statistics have to be based on a small number of people. Remember, they can't tell you what will happen in your individual case.

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis).

You can also talk about this to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

About these statistics

The terms 1 year survival and 5 year survival don't mean that you will only live for 1 or 5 years.

The NHS, other health organisations, and researchers collect information. They watch what happens to people with cancer in the years after their diagnosis. 5 years is a common time point to measure survival. But some people live much longer than this.

5 year survival is the number of people who have not died from their cancer within 5 years after diagnosis.

Survival by stage of gallbladder cancer

There are no UK wide statistics available for gallbladder cancer survival by stage. 

The statistics below come from America. They come from the National Cancer Institute's SEER programme. They are for people diagnosed with gallbladder cancer between 2013 and 2019. 

Please be aware that these figures might not be a true picture of survival in the UK. This is due to differences in the American health care systems, population, and data collection.

The American statistics are split into 3 stage groups – localised, regional and distant cancers. In the UK, your doctor might not use these terms. Instead, they might describe your cancer as a number stage (stage 1 to 4). The following descriptions are a guide to help you understand whether your cancer is localised, regional or distant. This isn’t straight forward and will depend on your individual situation. Talk to your specialist if you are unsure which group you are in.

  • Localised - usually includes stage 1 and stage 2 cancers which haven’t spread outside the gallbladder.
  • Regional - usually includes stage 3 cancers that have spread outside the gallbladder into surrounding tissues or lymph nodes.
  • Distant – includes stage 4 cancers that have spread to other parts of the body, away from the gallbladder.

More than 65 out of 100 people (more than 65%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis. 

Almost 30 out of 100 people (almost 30%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Almost 5 out of 100 people (almost 5%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.

Survival for all stages of gallbladder cancer

Survival for gallbladder cancer depends on how advanced the cancer is when it is diagnosed (the stage of the cancer). Unfortunately gallbladder cancer is often diagnosed in the later stages when treatment is unlikely to cure it.

Generally, for people with gallbladder cancer in England:

  • around 30 out of 100 people (around 30%) survive gallbladder cancer for at least 1 year
  • more than 10 out of 100 people (more than 10%)  survive gallbladder cancer for at least 5 years

What affects survival?

Your outlook depends on the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. This means how big it is and whether it has spread. 

It also depends on where the cancer is growing, and whether you can have surgery to completely remove it.

Your general health and fitness also affect survival. This is because the fitter you are, the better you may be able to cope with your cancer and treatment.

More statistics

For more in-depth information about survival and gallbladder, go to our cancer statistics section.

Clinical trials

Taking part in clinical trials can help to improve the outlook for people with gallbladder cancer.

Related links