Our aim was to investigate cancer incidence and the cause of long-term mortality in different gallstone diseases and conditions.
The study population consisted of 2034 subjects: 224 persons diagnosed with asymptomatic gallstones in 1983, 254 patients who underwent cholecystectomy in 1983, and 513 patients with symptomatic uncomplicated gallstones (SGS, n = 337) or acute cholecystitis (AC, n = 176) between 1992 and 1994. One thousand and forty-three people who participated in a population study in 1983 were controls.
An overall increased risk of cancer, as well as higher mortality, was found among persons with asymptomatic gallstones compared to controls (HR 1.46, 95% CI: 1.06-2.00 and HR 1.39, 95% CI: 1.08-1.78), whereas patients who underwent cholecystectomy in 1983 showed a slightly higher risk (not significant) for both cancer and death than controls. Among patients with SGS from 1992 to 1994 there was a significantly higher risk of contracting cancer in patients who had undergone surgery (HR = 2.56, 95% CI: 1.13-5.83). For patients with AC, there was no significant difference between surgically treated and non-surgically treated subjects, but there was a higher risk of cancer in all AC compared to SGS patients (HR 2.03, 95% CI: 1.20-3.43). Mortality did not differ significantly between surgically treated and non-surgically treated patients with SGS or AC.
Gallstone patients had a greater risk than the general population for developing cancer, but this was dependent on the type of gallstone condition and treatment. The effect of cholecystectomy seemed dubious.