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Background. Carcinoma of the gallbladder is a tumour with a dismal prognosis and 5-years overall survival rate less than 5%. Among the tumours of the gastrointestinal tract it is fifth in the row and its incidence is approximately 1.2/105. Tumour occurs more often (2–6 times) in women and in people over 50 years old (90%). According to the Slovenian Registry of Cancer for year 1998 the incidence of gallbladder carcinoma was 2.7/105 and it occurred 4 times more often among women. The most important risk factors for development of gallbladder carcinoma are: bile stones, chronic inflammation and polyps of the gallbladder. Carcinoma of the gallbladder develops in only 2–3% of the patients with bile stones. When discovered, carcinoma has already invaded the liver in 60%, regional lymph nodes in 45% and the other surrounding organs in 40%. Carcinoma is at time of diagnosis already disseminated in distant organs in 20%. Only in 10% of the patients it is confined to the gallbladder wall. Before the routine use of the ultrasound, computed tomography and tumour markers the disease was discovered preoperatively in 10% versus 90% today. Diagnostic percutaneous biopsy is not recommended. TNM classification and staging of the disease is important for the decision of the modality of treatment.
Conclusions. For TNM stage I gallbladder carcinoma, simple cholecystectomy is sufficient. When stage II-IVa is discovered, »en block« resection of gallbladder, liver segments 4b and 5, common bile duct and thorough lymphadenectomy is recommended. Regional radiotherapy and intraarterial chemotherapy with Mitomycin-C are showing promising results. Longterm outcome in patients with gallbladder carcinoma is improving but it is still disappointing.