Epidemiology of gallbladder disease: cholelithiasis and cancer.
Diseases of the gallbladder are common and costly. The best epidemiological screening method to accurately determine point prevalence of gallstone disease is ultrasonography. Many risk factors for cholesterol gallstone formation are not modifiable such as ethnic background, increasing age, female gender and family history or genetics. Conversely, the modifiable risks for cholesterol gallstones are obesity, rapid weight loss and a sedentary lifestyle. The rising epidemic of obesity and the metabolic syndrome predicts an escalation of cholesterol gallstone frequency. Risk factors for biliary sludge include pregnancy, drugs like ceftiaxone, octreotide and thiazide diuretics, and total parenteral nutrition or fasting. Diseases like cirrhosis, chronic hemolysis and ileal Crohn's disease are risk factors for black pigment stones. Gallstone disease in childhood, once considered rare, has become increasingly recognized with similar risk factors as those in adults, particularly obesity. Gallbladder cancer is uncommon in developed countries. In the U.S., it accounts for only ~ 5,000 cases per year. Elsewhere, high incidence rates occur in North and South American Indians. Other than ethnicity and female gender, additional risk factors for gallbladder cancer include cholelithiasis, advancing age, chronic inflammatory conditions affecting the gallbladder, congenital biliary abnormalities, and diagnostic confusion over gallbladder polyps.
Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada.
Pub Type(s)Journal Article