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Gall bladder cancer


What is gall bladder cancer?

Gall bladder or bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma) occurs when cells in the gall bladder become abnormal and keep growing to form a mass or lump called a tumour. The tumour type is defined by the particular cells that are affected. When cancer starts in another area of the body and spreads to the gall bladder it is referred to as secondary or metastatic cancer.

You can access further information about gall bladder cancer, including risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment from Cancer Council Victoria. You can also call our trusted cancer nurses on 13 11 20 for support and to learn about our range of services for people affected by cancer.

The Victorian Cancer Registry also operates an interactive web portal, Data Explorer, which provides more trends and statistics than published here.

How common is gall bladder cancer?

In 2020, 299 Victorians were diagnosed with gall bladder cancer. Of these, there were 150 males and 149 females, representing 50.2% and 49.8% of the total Victorian gall bladder cancer diagnoses, respectively. Currently, gall bladder cancer is diagnosed at a rate of 2.3 per 100,000 males and 2 per 100,000 females. The median age at diagnosis of gall bladder cancer is 72 years in males and 74 in females (Figure 1 & 2). Accounting for 0.9% of all cancers diagnosed and 1.9% of all cancer-related deaths in 2020, gall bladder cancer was the 22nd most commonly diagnosed cancer and the 18th most common cause of cancer-related deaths in Victoria.


Figure 1: Distribution of gall bladder cancer incidence in 2020, by sex within age groups

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)


Figure 2: Distribution of gall bladder cancer incidence in 2020, compared to the distribution of the Victorian population in 2020, by 5-year age brackets

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)

Gall bladder cancer morphology

Figure 4 provides a summary of the different types of cells (morphology) which have caused gall bladder cancers among all cases. Most gall bladder cancer tumours, 79.5%, present as Adenocarcinoma tumours.


Figure 4: Distribution of gall bladder cancer morphologies between 2011-2020

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)


Geographical variance in gall bladder cancer by local government area

Figure 5 demonstrates variation in age-standardised incidence rates of gall bladder cancer, by local government areas. Darker shading indicates areas with higher rates of gall bladder cancer.


Figure 5: Variation in the incidence of gall bladder cancer for the period 2016-2020, by location of residence in Victoria

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)


Gall bladder cancer in people born overseas

Figure 6 shows the age standardised incidence rates of gall bladder cancers in Australian-born Victorians compared to other major migrant groups, over the five-year period 2016 to 2020. The highest age standardised incidence rate for gall bladder cancers was 2.9 for males born in the Middle East and North Africa region and the lowest rate of 1.3 was observed in males born in the Other Europe region. The highest age standardised incidence rate of gall bladder cancers was 2.5 for females born in the Middle East and North Africa region and the lowest rate of 0.9 was observed in females born in the Other Europe region.


Figure 6: Age standardised incidence rates and 95% confidence intervals for gall bladder cancer in Victorians born in Australia compared to Victorians born in other countries for the period 2016-2020, by sex

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)


Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)



Gall bladder cancer five-year relative survival

Figure 7 shows the change in 5-year survival for gall bladder cancer, and the 5-year survival trend for all cancers over the same time period. It demonstrates that five-year relative survival has increased for gall bladder cancer between 1985-1989 and 2015-2019 from 12% to 26%.

Figure 7: Trend in five year relative survival following diagnosis of gall bladder cancer in five year brackets, from the period 1985-1989 to 2015-2019

Source: Victorian Cancer Registry (2022)

This webpage was last updated in May 2022