, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 240-247
Date: 10 Oct 2013

Review of the Impact of Antineoplastic Therapies on the Risk for Cholelithiasis and Acute Cholecystitis

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Development of cholecystitis in patients with malignancies can potentially disrupt their treatment and alter prognosis. This review aims to identify antineoplastic interventions associated with increased risk of cholecystitis in cancer patients.


A comprehensive search strategy was developed to identify articles pertaining to risk factors and complications of cholecystitis in cancer patients. FDA-issued labels of novel antineoplastic drugs released after 2010 were hand-searched to identify more therapies associated with cholecystitis in nonpublished studies.


Of an initial 2,932 articles, 124 were reviewed in the study. Postgastrectomy patients have a high (5–30 %) incidence of gallstone disease, and 1–7 % develop symptomatic disease. One randomized trial addressing the role of cholecystectomy concurrent with gastrectomy is currently underway. Among other risk groups, patients with neuroendocrine tumors treated with somatostatin analogs have a 15 % risk of cholelithiasis, and most are symptomatic. Hepatic artery based therapies carry a risk of cholecystitis (0.02–24 %), although the risk is reduced with selective catheterization. Myelosuppression related to chemotherapeutic agents (0.4 %), bone marrow transplantation, and treatment with novel multikinase inhibitors are associated with high risk of cholecystitis.


There are several risk factors for gallbladder-related surgical emergencies in patients with advanced malignancies. Incidental cholecystectomy at index operation should be considered in patients planned for gastrectomy, and candidates for regional therapies to the liver or somatostatin analogs. While prophylactic cholecystectomy is currently recommended for patients with cholelithiasis receiving myeloablative therapy, this strategy may have value in patients treated with multikinase inhibitors, immunotherapy, and oncolytic viral therapy based on evolving evidence.