Carcinoma of the Gallbladder

by | 31 May, 2020

Login to enrol on courses and monitor progress


Carcinoma of the gallbladder is an uncommon tumour that constitutes 1% of all cancers. >90% are adenocarcinomas; other types include anaplastic or squamous

Risk factors

Clinical features

Clinical features usually mimic cholecystitis. They may include:

  • Right upper quadrant pain
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Biliary obstruction – jaundice


Carcinoma of the gallbladder is often detected at the time of planned cholecystectomy for gallstones.

Diagnosis can be made using ultrasonography and the disease staged through CT scanning.


If it has not spread, surgical excision can be offered and can be curative in early lesions.

However, most cases present with spread to lymph nodes or surrounding tissue. Only palliative treatment can be offered if the disease has spread.


Very poor prognosis. 5-year survival is 5% and most die within 1 year of symptoms onset.

Spread to lymph nodes and surrounding tissue is common. It most commonly spreads to the liver, bile duct, stomach and duodenum.


Let's Learn Together!

All our lessons and courses are free to access and use for everybody.

Join Clinician Revision to get personalised help and see your progress.

Want to contribute to a topic, lesson or quiz?