Background — Gallbladder cancer is an aggressive neoplasm, and resection is the only curative modality. Single institutional studies report an aggressive surgical approach improves survival. This analysis was performed to examine the components of surgical resection and resultant survival.
Study Design — From 1988 to 2003, patients aged 18 to 85 years, resected of T1–3 M0 gallbladder cancer, were identified from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registry. Resections were classified as en bloc (cholecystectomy + at least one adjacent organ) or simple (cholecystectomy only); lymphadenectomy was defined as three or more lymph nodes assessed.
Results — Of the 2,835 resected patients with T1-T3 M0 cancer, only 8.6% underwent an en bloc resection, and 5.3% had a lymphadenectomy. In multivariable analysis, age, year of resection, region, and advanced T-stage were associated with more aggressive resection. In univariate analysis, improved survival was associated with en bloc resection for T1/2 cancers, and lymphadenectomy for T2/3 cancers. In multivariable analysis, the following were associated with improved survival: for T1 cancers, en bloc resection, younger age, lower grade, and recent year of resection; for T2 cancers, Caucasian race (versus African-American), lower grade, and node negative disease, with trends for en bloc resection and lymphadenectomy; and for T3 cancers, female gender, Caucasian race (versus American Indian), lower grade, node negative disease, and recent year of resection, with a strong trend for lymphadenectomy.
Conclusions — Very few patients underwent aggressive surgery. En bloc resection and lymphadenectomy may have stage-specific effects on survival. Additional studies should explore the underuse of aggressive operations, verify survival advantages, and define stage-specific resection strategies.