Staging of gallbladder cancer

Doctors use survival rates as a way of discussing one’s outlook (prognosis). A five-year survival rate is the percentage of patients who lived for at least five years after diagnosis of cancer. The gallbladder cancer survival rates also depend on the previous outcomes of large numbers of people who at one point happened to have cancer.

However, this can change depending on one’s general health, the grade of the cancer, how well one responds to treatment doctors administered. However, these rates are estimates and only apply to first cases of cancer.

This type of cancer is typically staged using FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) staging system. It relies entirely on surgery results.

The AJCC (American Joint Committee on Cancer), TNM staging system, involves three factors which include:

  • Tumor: This describes the extent of the primary tumor. Furthermore, if the tumor has grown into the walls of the gallbladder and if it has grown into other nearby organs or tissues.
  • Node: On the other hand, this refers to the presence or absence of metastasis to nearby lymph nodes (bean-sized collections of immune system cells throughout the body).
  • Metastasis: This, lastly, is the presence or absence of distant metastasis to other organs of the body. (1)

The gallbladder wall has several layers. From the inside out, these are:

  • Epithelium:  thin sheet of cells closest to the inside of the gallbladder
  • Lamina propria: a thin layer of loose connective tissue
  • Muscular: a layer of muscular tissue that helps the gallbladder contract, squirting its bile into the bile duct
  • Perimuscular: fibrous tissue, another layer of connective tissue
  • Serosa: the outer lining of the gallbladder

TNM Staging Of Gallbladder Cancer

Stage 0

Cancer has not spread to the nearby lymph nodes and nearby tissue.

Stage IA and IB

Cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes or nearby tissues. No single tumor has spread to the blood vessels and deeper gallbladder layers.

Stage IIA, IIB and IIC

There is a single tumor that has grown deeper into the gallbladder tissues. Though, cancer has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or distant sites.

Stage IIIA, IIIB, and IIIC

Cancer has not spread to the nearby lymph node or distant sites. However, cancer has spread to the blood vessels and deep down in the gallbladder tissues. The cancer is ulcerated and is thick.

Stage IV

Cancer has spread to other parts of the body. It has spread to the nearby lymph nodes and distant sites. It has spread beyond the original area of gallbladder layers.

Gallbladder Cancer Survival Rates

In the analysis of cancer survival rates and prognosis, staging is the process of finding out how widespread the disease. Furthermore, surgeons use it to determine what type of treatment they will apply to their patient. Lastly, doctors perform it by examining the location and the type of the cancer tissue.

Staging is important for gallbladder cancer because it can determine different prognoses at the various stages and therefore doctors administer different treatments accordingly. It helps to determine one’s health condition to know if the cancer needs treatment or not.

Survival rates for gallbladder cancer were published in the year 2010 in the 7th edition of the AJCC staging process manual. Experts also based this on data collected by the National Cancer Data Base from people diagnosed between the year 2000 and 2002. (2)

The following are the survival rates for gallbladder cancer:

  • Localized/ Stage 0: The 5-year survival rate is about 80%
  • Early Stage/ Stage I: The 5-year survival rate is about 50%
  • Stage II: The 5-year survival rate is about 28%
  • Stage III: The 5-year survival rate is about 8%
  • Distant Spread/ Stage IVA: The 5-year survival rate is about 4%
  • Stage IVB: The 5-year survival rate is about 2%

Survival For Gallbladder Cancer. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2017, from Cancer Research UK:

Survival Statistics for Gallbladder Cancer by Stage. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2017, from American Cancer Society: