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).
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 2009 and 2015.
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
Around 65 out of 100 people (around 65%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.
More than 25 out of 100 people (more than 25%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.
2 out of 100 people (2%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis.
SEER Explorer: An interactive website for SEER cancer statistics
Surveillance Research Program, National Cancer Institute
Accessed April 2021
These statistics are for relative survival. Relative survival takes into account that some people will die of causes other than cancer. The statistics are from America. They calculate relative survival using the general survival of the US population. This might not be a true picture of general survival in the UK population.
Survival for all stages
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:
- more than 45 out of 100 people (more than 45%) survive gallbladder cancer for at least 1 year
- 20 out of 100 people (20%) survive gallbladder cancer for at least 5 years
Net survival and the probability of cancer death from rare cancers
P Muller and others on behalf of the Cancer Research UK Cancer Survival Group, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
These figures are for people diagnosed in England between 2009 and 2013.
Five and ten year survival is predicted using a mathematical model using 1 year survival statistics from patients diagnosed with gallbladder cancer during 2009-2013 in England.
These statistics are for net survival. Net survival estimates the number of people who survive their cancer rather than calculating the number of people diagnosed with cancer who are still alive. In other words, it is the survival of cancer patients after taking into account that some people would have died from other causes if they had not had cancer.
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 Office for National Statistics (ONS) 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.
For more in-depth information about survival and gallbladder, go to our cancer statistics section.
Taking part in clinical trials can help to improve the outlook for people with gallbladder cancer.