Gallbladder Cancer Stages

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Gallbladder cancer is classified according to the type and stage, from the earliest to the most advanced. The stages of gallbladder cancer are based on the location and size of the tumor and how far it has spread. Nearly all gallbladder cancer starts in the inner lining of the gallbladder. Over time it may grow through various layers toward the outside of the gallbladder.

Cancers at similar stages tend to have a similar outlook and are often treated in much the same way. When we know the stage of the cancer, our doctors can prepare a treatment plan that’s customized specifically to each person’s needs. 

There are four main stages of gallbladder cancer. They are often written with the Roman numerals I, II, III, and IV.

Stage I Gallbladder Cancer

The cancer is confined to the inner layers of the gallbladder.

Stage II Gallbladder Cancer

The cancer has grown into the outer layers of the gallbladder.

Stage III Gallbladder Cancer

The cancer has spread to one or more nearby organs, such as the liver, small intestine, or stomach. The cancer may have spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Stage IV Gallbladder Cancer

This is the most advanced form of gallbladder cancer. It includes large tumors that involve several nearby organs and tumors of any size that have spread (metastasized) to distant areas of the body.

Gallbladder Cancer Treatment Groups

The stages of gallbladder cancer are also generally grouped by how the cancer may be treated. 

There are two treatment groups:

  • localized (stage I)
  • unresectable, recurrent, or metastatic (stage II, stage III, and stage IV)