Gallbladder Cancer Treatment
Stages of Gallbladder Cancer
Key Points for this Section
Tests and procedures to stage gallbladder cancer are usually
done at the same time as diagnosis.
See the General Information section for a description of tests and procedures used to detect, diagnose, and stage gallbladder cancer.
There are three ways that cancer spreads in the body.
The three ways that cancer spreads in the body are:
- Through tissue. Cancer invades the surrounding normal tissue.
- Through the lymph system. Cancer invades the lymph system and travels through the lymph vessels to other places in the body.
- Through the blood. Cancer invades the veins and capillaries and travels through the blood to other places in the body.
When cancer cells break away from the primary (original) tumor and travel through the lymph or blood to other places in the body, another (secondary) tumor may form. This process is called metastasis. The secondary (metastatic) tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if breast cancer spreads to the bones, the cancer cells in the bones are actually breast cancer cells. The disease is metastatic breast cancer, not bone cancer.
The following stages are used for gallbladder cancer:
Stage 0 (Carcinoma in Situ)
In stage 0, abnormal cells are found in the inner (mucosal) layer of the
gallbladder. These abnormal cells may become cancer and spread into nearby normal tissue. Stage 0 is also called carcinoma in situ.
In stage I, cancer has formed and has spread beyond the inner (mucosal) layer to a layer of tissue with blood vessels or to the muscle layer.
In stage II, cancer has spread beyond the muscle layer to the connective tissue around the muscle.
In stage IIIA, cancer has spread through the thin layers of tissue that cover the gallbladder and/or to the liver and/or to one nearby organ (such as the stomach, small intestine, colon, pancreas, or bile ducts outside the liver).
In stage IIIB, cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and:
In stage IVA, cancer has spread to a main blood vessel of the liver or to 2 or more nearby organs or areas other than the liver. Cancer may have spread to nearby lymph nodes.
In stage IVB, cancer has spread to either:
For gallbladder cancer, stages are also grouped according to how the cancer may be treated. There are two treatment groups:
Localized (Stage I)
Cancer is found in the wall of the gallbladder and can be completely removed by surgery.
Unresectable, recurrent, or metastatic (Stage II, Stage III, and Stage IV)
Unresectable cancer cannot be removed completely by surgery. Most patients with gallbladder cancer have unresectable cancer.
Recurrent cancer is cancer that has recurred (come back) after it has been treated. Gallbladder cancer may come back in the gallbladder or in other parts of the body.
Metastasis is the spread of cancer from the primary site (place where it started) to other places in the body. Metastatic gallbladder cancer may spread to surrounding tissues, organs, throughout the abdominal cavity, or to distant parts of the body.