Gallbladder Cancer Stages / Staging
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Stages of Gallbladder Cancer
Gallbladder cancer staging describes how large a cancer is, and the degree to which the disease has spread. The staging guidelines developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) are often used to stage the disease, and allow doctors to communicate important information about the cancer with each other in a standardized way. Gallbladder cancer stages are based on three categories:
- T – Describes the primary tumor size
- N – Indicates whether the gallbladder cancer cells have spread to regional lymph nodes
- M – Refers to whether the cancer has metastasized (spread to distant areas of the body)
Gallbladder Cancer Stage Groupings
Once the individual TNM components are scored, they are combined to determine the overall gallbladder cancer stage group:
- Stage 0: The cancer is small and found only in the innermost (epithelial) layer of the gallbladder. It has not spread to the lymph nodes or other places in the body.
- Stage I: Still localized within the gallbladder, the tumor has begun to penetrate into the second and third layers of the gallbladder (the lamina propria and the muscle layer).
- Stage II: The cancer is still localized within the gallbladder but has now penetrated the deeper layer of perimuscular fibrous tissue. It has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs.
- Stage IIIA: The cancer has extended through the outermost layer of the gallbladder (the serosa), and/or may have extended into the liver or another nearby structure. However, it has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or more distant organs.
- Stage IIIB: Cancer cells have spread to nearby lymph nodes, but the tumor has not spread into the blood vessels leading to the liver, or more than one nearby organ other than the liver. The cancer has also not reached distant organs.
- Stage IVA: The cancer has spread into the blood vessels leading to the liver, and/or has extended to a nearby organ other than the liver. Cancer cells may have reached nearby lymph nodes, but they have not reached distant organs.
- Stage IVB: Cancers at this stage are the most advanced. Cancer cells have either spread to lymph nodes farther away from the gallbladder, or they have spread to distant organs.
In addition to gallbladder cancer staging, tumor grading is another component that is used to tell how advanced a gallbladder cancer is, and to help develop the treatment plan. Grade is a way of describing how close the cancer cells look under a microscope to normal gallbladder cells. The grading scale ranges from G1, which is very close to normal, to G4, which is the most abnormal. Generally, the lower the grade of the gallbladder cancer, the less likely the cancer is to grow and spread, and the more favorable the prognosis, or outlook.
Gallbladder Cancer Staging and Treatment Options
There are a number of different treatment options for each stage of gallbladder cancer. Your medical history and other relevant factors will be carefully reviewed by your care team at CTCA to develop a personalized treatment plan for you.
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