Gallbladder Cancer Presenting with Jaundice: Uniformly Fatal or Still Potentially Curable?

Thuy B. Tran, Jeffrey A. Norton, Cecilia G. Ethun, Timothy M. Pawlik, Stefan Buettner, Carl Schmidt, Eliza W. Beal, William G. Hawkins, Ryan C. Fields, Bradley A. Krasnick, Sharon M. Weber, Ahmed Salem, Robert C.G. Martin, Charles R. Scoggins, Perry Shen, Harveshp D. Mogal, Kamran Idrees, Chelsea A. Isom, Ioannis Hatzaras, Rivfka ShenoyShishir K. Maithel, George A. Poultsides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Jaundice as a presenting symptom of gallbladder cancer has traditionally been considered to be a sign of advanced disease, inoperability, and poor outcome. However, recent studies have demonstrated that a small subset of these patients can undergo resection with curative intent. Methods: Patients with gallbladder cancer managed surgically from 2000 to 2014 in 10 US academic institutions were stratified based on the presence of jaundice at presentation (defined as bilirubin ≥4 mg/ml or requiring preoperative biliary drainage). Perioperative morbidity, mortality, and overall survival were compared between jaundiced and non-jaundiced patients. Results: Of 400 gallbladder cancer patients with available preoperative data, 108 (27%) presented with jaundice while 292 (73%) did not. The fraction of patients who eventually underwent curative-intent resection was much lower in the presence of jaundice (n = 33, 30%) than not (n = 218, 75%; P < 0.001). Jaundiced patients experienced higher perioperative morbidity (69 vs. 38%; P = 0.002), including a much higher need for reoperation (12 vs. 1%; P = 0.003). However, 90-day mortality (6.5 vs. 3.6%; P = 0.35) was not significantly higher. Overall survival after resection was worse in jaundiced patients (median 14 vs. 32 months; P < 0.001). Further subgroup analysis within the jaundiced patients revealed a more favorable survival after resection in the presence of low CA19-9 < 50 (median 40 vs. 12 months; P = 0.003) and in the absence of lymphovascular invasion (40 vs. 14 months; P = 0.014). Conclusion: Jaundice is a powerful preoperative clinical sign of inoperability and poor outcome among gallbladder cancer patients. However, some of these patients may still achieve long-term survival after resection, especially when preoperative CA19-9 levels are low and no lymphovascular invasion is noted pathologically.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1245-1253
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Volume21
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

Keywords

  • Biliary obstruction
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Hyperbilirubinemia
  • Jaundice
  • Resectability

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