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Laparoscopic cholecystectomy does not demonstrably decrease survival of patients with serendipitously treated gallbladder cancer11 No competing interests declared.

Journal of the American College of Surgeons
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s1072-7515(00)00794-8
  • Original Scientific Article
  • Medicine


Abstract Background: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the possibility that laparoscopic cholecystectomy has worsened the prognosis of patients with resected gallbladder cancer; particularly for patients whose cancer was accidentally resected. Study Design: We conducted a retrospective review of Connecticut Tumor Registry data and data extracted from individual patient records at 15 of 30 hospitals in Connecticut reporting data to the Registry, at two separate time points, 1985–1988 (immediate prelaparoscopic era) and 1992–95 (laparoscopic cholecystectomy well established). There were 194 and 208 patients in each 3-year period, respectively. Additional information was extracted from hospital records in 82 and 91 patients, respectively. Twenty-five percent of patients in both data sets presented with “local” or Tis, T1, T2 disease. Results: Three-year survival for localized disease was 29% in the prelaparoscopic period and 34% once laparoscopic cholecystectomy was established. But analysis of individual patient records indicated that 36% of patients from the laparoscopic period did not actually undergo a laparoscopic procedure. Fifty-nine patients had their gallbladder cancer discovered in the specimen postoperatively (serendipitously treated). A higher proportion of cancers were discovered postoperatively in the laparoscopic era (44% versus 24%). Three-year survival for these patients was 25%. If the data from the two eras are grouped according to whether or not the cancer-bearing gallbladder was manipulated laparoscopically, 24 of 59 patients (41%) turned out to be at risk for the possibility of increased laparoscopic dissemination of tumor. Survival of these patients (11-month median survival) was not statistically different from survival of patients whose serendipitously discovered gallbladder cancer was never manipulated laparoscopically (16-month median survival); p = 0.54 by log rank test. Conclusions: The widespread adoption of laparoscopic cholecystectomy did not worsen the survival of patients with gallbladder cancer, and patients with serendipitously treated gallbladder cancers did not have a worse survival after laparoscopic manipulation than after a standard open cholecystectomy. The laparoscopic aspects of operative manipulation of a gallbladder with cancer in it do not appear to be a proximate cause of the poor prognosis in this disease.

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