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.
Dec. 10, 2019
- Lee SR, et al. Reasonable cholecystectomy of gallbladder polyp — 10 years of experience. Asian Journal of Surgery. 2019; doi:10.1016/j.asjsur.2018.03.005.
- Zakko WF, et al. Gallbladder polyps and cholesterolosis. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Oct. 31, 2019.
- Lamberts MP. Indications of cholecystectomy in gallstone disease. Current Opinion in Gastroenterology. 2018; doi:10.1097/MOG.0000000000000419.
- McCain RS, et al. Current practices and future prospects for the management of gallbladder polyps: A topical review. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2018; doi:10.3748/wjg.v24.i26.2844.