Life Expectancy for Gallbladder Cancer

Updated March 24, 2017

Gallbladder cancer is a rare condition that is characterised by malignancy of the bile tract. Life expectancy for gallbladder cancer is contingent on when it is diagnosed and whether it can be removed with surgery.

Stage 1

Gallbladder cancer diagnosed during this stage is treated by removing the gallbladder. If the cancer is confined to the gallbladder lining, there is a 100% survival rate for at least 5 years after surgery; however, only 15% of patients survive 5 years after surgery if the cancer has spread to the muscle.

Stage 2

The second stage of gallbladder cancer is characterised by the cancer spreading to a nearby organ. Only 20% of people diagnosed during this stage survive at least 5 years after surgery.

Stage 3

During stage three, the cancer spreads to nearby organs and lymph nodes; only 5% of people diagnosed during this period survive at least 5 years after surgery. The cancer may be too advanced for surgery, thereby reducing the survival rate to 6 months to 2 years after diagnosis.

Stage 4

By stage 4, the cancer is inoperable. Roughly 1% of people diagnosed during stage 4 will live longer than 2 years after diagnosis.


According to Cancer Research UK, 5 year survival does not mean a person will only live 5 years. Research is limited to 5 years after treatment because cancer is less likely to return after that period.

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About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Baldwin Ellis has been a writer since 2007. He covers fitness, mental health and travel, with work appearing in print and online publications such as Scazu Fitness and USA Today Travel Tips. Ellis holds a Master of Arts in community psychology.