In most Western countries gallbladder cancer is a rare tumor with a poor prognosis. The majority of patients present with advanced-stage tumors (stage IV) that are not amenable to surgical resection. At the other end of the spectrum a small percentage of patients present with stage I disease that may be cured by cholecystectomy. The role for surgery in patients with stage II and III disease remains controversial, but most hepatobiliary surgeons believe that an aggressive surgical approach improves survival for these patients. However, the extent of hepatic and lymph node resection, the need for resection of the extrahepatic ducts in nonjaundiced patients, the role of vascular resection, and the advisability of hepatopancreatoduodenectomy remain a matter of debate. Although no data from prospective, randomized studies are available, resection of the gallbladder and adjacent liver with or without the extrahepatic bile ducts and with a regional lymph node dissection is the operative approach recommended for selected patients with gallbladder cancer.
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