Gallbladder carcinoma is the most common malignancy of the biliary tract. There are still many controversies regarding the type of curative surgical treatment for each stage of the disease. The staging system used is the TNM classification of the International Union Against Cancer. Different patterns of spread characterize gallbladder cancer but the two main types are direct invasion and lymph node metastases; since only the depth of invasion can be easily recognized by imaging techniques, it becomes the main variable in choosing the appropriate surgical treatment. Most Tis and T1 tumours are incidentally discovered after cholecystectomy for cholelithiasis and no further therapy is requested; for pT1b tumours, relaparotomy with hepatic resection and N1 dissection is associated with a better survival. For T2 tumours, cholecystectomy with hepatic resection and dissection of N1-2 lymph nodes is the standard treatment, with a 5-year survival of 60-80%. The only chance of long-term survival for patients with a T3-T4 tumour is an extended operation combining an hepatic resection with an N1-2 dissection with or without excision of the common bile duct. A subset of patients with peripancreatic positive nodes or invasion of adjacent organs seems to benefit from a synchronous pancreaticoduodenectomy. (C) 2000 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.
- Lymph nodes
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