Background Gallbladder cancer is a relatively rare malignancy. The current study aimed to define the incidence and patterns of recurrence following gallbladder cancer resection. Methods Using a multi-institutional cohort we identified 217 patient undergoing curative intent surgery for gallbladder cancer. Patterns of recurrence were classified as locoregional and distant recurrence. Results At last follow-up, 76 patients (35.0%) had experienced a recurrence (locoregional only, n = 12, 15.8%; distant only, n = 50, 65.8%; locoregional and distant, n = 14, 18.4%). Median time to recurrence was 9.5 months (IQR 4.7–17.6) and was not associated with recurrence site (all p > 0.05). On multivariable analysis, T3 disease (HR = 8.44, p = 0.014), lymphovascular invasion (HR = 4.24, p < 0.001) and residual disease (HR = 2.04, p = 0.042) were associated with an increased risk of recurrence. Patients who recurred demonstrated a worse 1-, 3- and 5-year OS (1-year OS: 91.3% vs. 68.6%, p = 0.001, 3-year OS: 79.3% vs. 28.7%, p < 0.001, and 5-year OS: 75.9% vs. 16.0%, p < 0.001). After adjusting for other risk factors, recurrence was independently associated with a decreased OS (HR = 3.71, p = 0.006). Of note, receipt of adjuvant therapy was associated with improved OS (HR = 0.56, p = 0.027) among those patients who developed a tumor recurrence. Discussion Over one-third of patients experienced a recurrence after gallbladder cancer surgery. While chemotherapy did not decrease the rate of recurrence, patients who experienced recurrence after administration of adjuvant treatment faired better than patients who did not receive adjuvant therapy.
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