Gallbladder cancer: South American experience

Gerardo F. Arroyo, Alberto Gentile, Luis A. Parada


Large differences in terms of incidence and mortality due to gallbladder cancer (GBC) have been reported worldwide. Moreover, it seems that GBC has unique characteristics in South America. We surveyed the literature looking for information about the epidemiology, basic and translational research, and clinical trials performed in South America in order to critically analyze the magnitude of this health problem in the region. Compared to other geographic areas, age-standardized mortality rates (ASMR) for GBC in women are very high, particularly in many western areas of South America. Genetic, as well as dietary and environmental factors likely contribute to the pathogenesis of this disease in the area. Compared to other regions the profile of abnormalities of key genes such as KRAS and TP53 in GBC seems to slightly differ in South America, while the clinical behavior appears to be similar with a median overall survival (OS) of 6.5 to 8 months in advanced GBC. In contrast to Europe and USA, prophylactic cholecystectomy is a common practice in western areas of South America. GBC particularly affects women in South America, and represents a significant public health problem. It appears to have peculiarities that pose an urgent need for additional research aimed to discover risk factors, molecular events associated with its development and new treatment options for this lethal disease.