Keyhole surgery can trigger gallbladder cancer or cause it to recur, researchers have found. The procedure, known as laparoscopic cholecystectomy, which involves the removal of the gall bladder, caused cancer of the abdominal wall to recur in three of the 30 patients investigated, and two of these died.
Although they accepted that the procedure caused the cancer, the researchers said the long term prognosis was the same among patients and those who developed the cancer in other ways.
Three year survival rate was 100 per cent for early gallbladder cancer and 70 per cent for advanced tumours, similar to the pattern for the cancers caused by the operation.
Therefore, say the research team from Hamamatsu University School of Medicine in Japan, patients with gallbladder problems should still have the keyhole procedure.
But whether they should be told that it might result in cancer is a conundrum not addressed by the researchers (Surgery, 1998; 123: 311-4).