Papillary carcinomas of the gallbladder: Analysis of noninvasive and invasive types

Jorge Albores-Saavedra, Matthew Tuck, Bernadette K. McLaren, Kelley S. Carrick, Donald Earl Henson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Context. - Although papillary carcinomas have been recognized as distinct morphologic variants of gallbladder neoplasms, they have been lumped together in a single group despite the recognition of noninvasive and invasive types. As a result, the biologic behavior of each type remains undescribed. Objective. - To compare the biologic behavior of non-invasive and invasive papillary carcinomas of the gallbladder. Design. - The clinical and morphologic features of 16 noninvasive papillary carcinomas (>1 cm) of the gallbladder were analyzed, and their clinical behavior was compared with that of 370 invasive papillary carcinomas recorded in the Survey Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute from 1973 through 2001. The biologic behavior of invasive papillary carcinomas was compared with that of invasive nonpapillary carcinomas of the gallbladder recorded in SEER. Hematoxylin-eosin-stained sections were available for review in the 16 noninvasive papillary carcinomas. The number of slides examined per case varied from 3 to 16, with an average of 7. Results. - The 16 patients with noninvasive papillary carcinomas included 11 women and 5 men, aged 34 to 83 years (mean age, 61 years). Thirteen patients had cholelithiasis. Laparoscopic cholecystectomy was performed on 12 patients and open cholecystectomy on 4. The tumors measured from 1.3 to 8.6 cm and were well to moderately differentiated. Fourteen noninvasive papillary carcinomas showed biliary phenotype, and 2 showed intestinal phenotype. Follow-up was obtained in 11 patients; 6 were asymptomatic 5 to 11 years after surgery, 2 were symptom free 9 months to 4 years following cholecystectomy, and 3 died of unrelated causes 2 to 3 years after surgery. Three hundred seventy cases of invasive papillary carcinomas were recorded in SEER. The 10-year relative survival rate for 225 patients with invasive papillary carcinomas confined to the gallbladder wall was 52%, while the 10-year relative survival rate for 83 patients with papillary carcinomas that had spread to the lymph nodes was less than 10%. Of the remaining 62 invasive papillary carcinomas, 58 had distant metastases and 4 were not staged. The 10-year relative survival rate for invasive nonpapillary carcinomas confined to the gallbladder wall was 30%. Conclusion. -Noninvasive papillary carcinomas of the gallbladder-regardless of size, cell phenotype, and degree of differentiation-do not metastasize, and a simple cholecystectomy appears to be a curative procedure. In contrast, invasive papillary carcinomas do metastasize and are associated with a poor prognosis (10-year relative survival rate for tumors confined to the gallbladder wall was 52%, while the 10-year relative survival rate for tumors with lymph node metastasis was <10%). The separation of papillary carcinomas into noninvasive and invasive types is clinically relevant and therefore fully justified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)905-909
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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