Reappraisal of T1b gallbladder cancer (GBC): clinicopathologic analysis of 473 in situ and invasive GBCs and critical review of the literature highlights its rarity, and that it has a very good prognosis

Pehlivanoglu B., Akkas G., Memis B., Basturk O., Reid M. D., Saka B., ...More

Virchows Archiv, vol.482, no.2, pp.311-323, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 482 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00428-022-03482-6
  • Journal Name: Virchows Archiv
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE
  • Page Numbers: pp.311-323
  • Keywords: Gallbladder carcinoma, pT1b, Pathologic sampling, Survival
  • Kütahya Health Sciences University Affiliated: Yes


There are highly conflicting data on relative frequency (2–32%), prognosis, and management of pT1b-gallbladder carcinoma (GBC), with 5-year survival ranging from > 90% in East/Chile where cholecystectomy is regarded as curative, versus < 50% in the West, with radical operations post-cholecystectomy being recommended by guidelines. A total of 473 in situ and invasive extensively sampled GBCs from the USA (n = 225) and Chile (n = 248) were re-evaluated histopathologically per Western invasiveness criteria. 349 had invasive carcinoma, and only 24 were pT1. Seven cases previously staged as pT1b were re-classified as pT2. There were 19 cases (5% of all invasive GBCs) qualified as pT1b and most pT1b carcinomas were minute (< 1mm). One patient with extensive pTis at margins (but pT1b focus away from the margins) died of GBC at 27 months, two died of other causes, and the remainder were alive without disease (median follow-up 69.9 months; 5-year disease-specific survival, 92%). In conclusion, careful pathologic analysis of well-sampled cases reveals that only 5% of invasive GBCs are pT1b, with a 5-year disease-specific survival of > 90%, similar to findings in the East. This supports the inclusion of pT1b in the “early GBC” category, as is typically done in high-incidence regions. Pathologic mis-staging of pT2 as pT1 is not uncommon. Cases should not be classified as pT1b unless extensive, preferably total, sampling of the gallbladder to rule out a subtle pT2 is performed. Critical appraisal of the literature reveals that the Western guidelines are based on either SEER or mis-interpretation of stage IB cases as “pT1b.” Although the prognosis of pT1b-GBC is very good, additional surgery (radical cholecystectomy) may be indicated, and long-term surveillance of the biliary tract is warranted.