Can Gallbladder Cancer Be Prevented?

There's 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 defects, are beyond our control. But there are things you can do that might help lower your risk.

Taking these steps helps maintain good health and may reduce a person's risk of gallbladder cancer, as well as many other types of cancer:

  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight
  • Keep physically active and limit the time you spend sitting or lying down
  • Follow a healthy eating pattern that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limits or avoids red and processed meats, sugary drinks, and highly processed foods
  • It's best not to drink alcohol. If you do drink, have no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men

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 might 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 problems. This is because, in most cases, the possible risks and complications of surgery probably don’t outweigh the possible benefit. Still, some doctors might advise removing the gallbladder if long-standing gallstone disease has resulted in a porcelain gallbladder.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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Patel T, Borad MJ. Carcinoma of the biliary tree. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015:715-735.

Rock CL, Thomson C, Gansler T, et al. American Cancer Society guideline for diet and physical activity for cancer prevention. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2020;70(4). doi:10.3322/caac.21591. Accessed at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21591 on June 9, 2020.

Last Revised: June 9, 2020

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