Gallstone Disease May Help Predict Pancreatic Cancer

Immunohistochemical staining Hematoxylin-Eosin, highlights a malignant proliferate tumor (adnocarcinoma), adipose tissue (abdominal fat) infiltrated by a malignant lesion of pancreatic origin. Nerve fillets with perineal infiltration are presented.
Researchers analyzed the incidence of gallstone disease within 1 year prior to pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) were almost 6 times more likely than noncancer patients to have had gallstone disease within the year prior to PDAC diagnosis, according to study results presented at Digestive Disease Week (DDW), held from May 21 to 24, 2022, in San Diego, California, and virtually.

For the study, researchers sourced records from the SEER-Medicare database between 2008 and 2015. Researchers assessed the incidence of gallstone disease, gallbladder inflammation, and cholecystectomy from patients’ hospital visits in the year before PDAC diagnosis and compared the data with the annual incidence in participants without cancer. The investigators used a 1-month washout period before diagnosis for the cohort of patients with cancer.

The study included 18,700 patients with PDAC, as well as an average of 99,287 patients per year without cancer. Patients with PDAC had a median age of 76 (IQR, 71, 82) years, 52.8% were women, 85.4% were White, and 49.0% had stage IV disease.

Among the patients with PDAC, 4.7% were diagnosed with gallstone disease and 1.6% had a cholecystectomy in the year before diagnosis. In the noncancer group, 0.8% had gallstone disease per year and 0.3% had a cholecystectomy per year.

Patients with gallstone disease were diagnosed at an earlier disease stage (stages I-II) (47.9% vs 40.5%, P <.0001) and a higher proportion had a pancreaticoduodenectomy (17.6% vs 12.9%, P <.0001), compared with patients without gallstone disease.

“Gallstone disease does not cause pancreatic cancer but understanding its association with PDAC can help combat the high mortality rate with pancreatic cancer by providing the opportunity for earlier diagnosis and treatment,” Dr Marianna Papageorge, lead study researcher, said in a DDW 2022 news release.


  1. Papageorge M, de Geus S, Woods A, et al. Gallstone disease in the year prior to pancreatic cancer diagnosis: an opportunity for action. Presented at: DDW 2022; May 21-24, 2022; San Diego, CA. Abstract 761.
  2. Gallstone disease shown to be strong predictor of pancreatic cancer: Study finds cancer incidence nearly six times higher within one year of gallbladder diagnosis. News release. DDW 2022. May 13, 2022.

This article originally appeared on Gastroenterology Advisor