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Mayo Clinic Health Library

Question

Gallbladder polyps: Can they be cancerous?

Are gallbladder polyps associated with gallbladder cancer?

Updated: 12-10-2019

Answer

Answer Section

Gallbladder polyps are growths that protrude from the lining of the inside of the gallbladder. Polyps can be cancerous, but they rarely are. About 95% of gallbladder polyps are benign.

The size of a gallbladder polyp can help predict whether it's cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign). Small gallbladder polyps that are less than 1/2 inch ― a little more than a centimeter ― in diameter are unlikely to be cancerous and generally don't require treatment.

However, for these polyps, your doctor may suggest follow-up examinations to look for changes that may be an indication of cancer. This can be done using standard abdominal ultrasound or endoscopic ultrasound.

Gallbladder polyps larger than 1/2 inch in diameter are more likely to be cancerous or turn into cancer over time, and those larger than 3/4 inch (almost 2 centimeters) in diameter may pose a significant risk of being malignant. Treatment of larger gallbladder polyps includes surgical removal of the gallbladder (cholecystectomy). Again, malignant polyps are extremely rare. Only about 5% of gallbladder polyps are cancerous.

Your doctor may also recommend cholecystectomy if you have a gallbladder polyp of any size accompanied with gallstones.