Gallbladder Cancer

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Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention TOPICS

Can gallbladder cancer be prevented?

There is no known way to prevent most gallbladder cancers. Many of the known risk factors for gallbladder cancer, such as age, gender, ethnicity, and bile duct abnormalities, are beyond our control. But there are things you can do that might lower your risk.

Getting to and staying a healthy weight is one important way a person may reduce their risk of gallbladder cancer, as well as several other cancers. The American Cancer Society recommends that people try to stay at a healthy weight throughout life by being active and eating a healthy diet, with mostly plant foods. This includes at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits every day. Choose whole-grain breads, pastas, and cereals instead of refined grains. Eat fish, poultry, or beans and limit how much processed meat and red meat you eat. To learn more, see the American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention.

Since gallstones are a major risk factor, removing the gallbladders of all people with gallstones would prevent many of these cancers. But gallstones are very common, and gallbladder cancer is quite rare, even in people with gallstones. Most doctors don’t recommend people with gallstones have their gallbladder removed unless the stones are causing symptoms or other problems. This is because the possible risks and complications of surgery probably don’t outweigh the possible benefit. Some doctors might advise removing the gallbladder if long-standing gallstone disease has resulted in a porcelain gallbladder.


Last Medical Review: 10/29/2014
Last Revised: 10/29/2014