porcelain gall bladder and gallbladder cancer

Last reviewed 01/2018

  • chronic inflammation in the biliary tract causing deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) damage, provoking repeated tissue proliferative attempts at restoration, releasing cytokines and growth factors, and thus, predisposing cells to oncogenic transformation has been observed (1)

  • gallbladder chronic inflammation can also cause deposition of calcium in the gallbladder wall

  • when calcium deposits become extensive, the gallbladder becomes fragile and even brittle; and acquires a bluish hue - hence the term 'porcelain gallbladder' (2)
    • porcelain gallbladder is frequently (average 25%, range, 12-61%) associated with incidence of gallbladder cancer (3,4)


  • Rashid A, Ueki T, Gao YT, et al. K-ras mutation, p53 overexpression, and microsatellite instability in biliary tract cancers: a population-based study in China. Clin Cancer Res 2002;8:3156-63.
  • Berk RN, Armbuster TG, Saltzstein SL. Carcinoma in the porcelain gallbladder. Radiology 1973;106:29-31.
  • Stephen AE, Berger DL. Carcinoma in the porcelain gallbladder: a relationship revisited. Surgery 2001;129:699-703.
  • Cunningham SC, Alexander HR. Porcelain gallbladder and cancer: ethnicity explains a discrepant literature? Am J Med 2007;120:e17-8.