Epidemiology of gallbladder cancer.
Gallbladder cancer, although rare in most Caucasian populations, is among the most frequently observed cancers in native populations of North and South America, and in the Maori population of New Zealand. In all populations, there is a strong correlation between gallstones and gallbladder cancer: the risk of gallbladder cancer is approximately 4-5 times higher in patients with gallstones, than in patients without gallstones. In those populations where the onset of gallstone disease occurs in the first few decades, the risk is much higher. Obesity, which is also a risk factor for gallstones, increases the risk of gallbladder cancer, as does the consumption of diets high in fats and calories. Other risk factors, such as increased parity, also increase the frequency of gallbladder cancer, most probably explained by the association between gallstones and parity. Prophylactic cholecystectomy for asymptomatic gallstones cannot be justified for the control of gallbladder cancer, but the increasing frequency of this procedure in many countries, secondary to the widespread use of laparoscopic surgical techniques, will clearly lower the incidence and mortality rates for this lethal disease.
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