National Failure of Surgical Staging for T1b Gallbladder Cancer

  • Elaine Vo
  • Steven A. Curley
  • Christy Y. Chai
  • Nader N. Massarweh
  • Hop S. Tran Cao
Hepatobiliary Tumors



Current guidelines recommend radical cholecystectomy with regional lymphadenectomy (RC-RL) for patients with T1b gallbladder cancer (GBC). However, the extent to which these guidelines are followed is unclear. This study aimed to evaluate current surgical practices for T1b GBC and their implications for overall management strategies and associated outcomes.


This retrospective cohort study investigated patients identified from the National Cancer Data Base (2004–2012) with non-metastatic T1b GBC. The patients were categorized according to type of surgical treatment received: simple cholecystectomy (SC) or RC-RL. Among the patients who had lymph nodes pathologically examined, nodal status was classified as pN− or pN+. Use of any adjuvant therapy was ascertained. Overall survival (OS) was compared based on type of surgical treatment and nodal status.


The cohort comprised 464 patients (247 SC and 217 RC-RL cases). The positive margin status did not differ between the two groups (6.1% for SC vs 2.3% for RC-RL; p = 0.128). For RC-RL, the pN+ rate was 15%. Adjuvant therapies were used more frequently in pN+ (53.1% vs 9.4% for pN−). By comparison, 10.9% of the SC patients received adjuvant therapy. The OS for RC-RL-pN− (5-years OS, 64.4%) was significantly better than for RC-RL-pN+ (5-years OS, 15.7%) or SC (5-years OS, 48.3%) (p < 0.001).


Less than 50% of the patients with a T1b GBC primary tumor undergo the recommended surgical treatment. Given that 15% of these patients have nodal metastasis and in light of the previously described benefits of adjuvant therapy for node positive GBC, failure to perform RC-RL risks incomplete staging and thus undertreatment for patients with T1b GBC.



This study was based upon work supported by the Scholar Award from the Dan L. Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center (HTC) and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Office of Research and Development, and the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety (CIN 13-413–NM). The funding body had no role in the design or performance of the study; collection, management, analysis, or interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; or decision to submit the manuscript for publication. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Baylor College of Medicine, or the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. The data used in this study are derived from a de-identified NCDB file. The American College of Surgeons and the Commission on Cancer have not verified and are not responsible for the analytic or statistical methodology used or the conclusions drawn from these data. No preregistration exists for the study reported in this article.


There are no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Society of Surgical Oncology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elaine Vo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Steven A. Curley
    • 1
  • Christy Y. Chai
    • 1
  • Nader N. Massarweh
    • 1
    • 3
  • Hop S. Tran Cao
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, Baylor College of MedicineMichael E. DeBakey VA Medical CenterHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Christus Trinity Mother Frances HospitalTylerUSA
  3. 3.Health Services Research and Development Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and SafetyMichael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical CenterHoustonUSA

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