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We investigated whether cholecystectomy is associated with subsequent cancer and, if so, whether the association is likely to be causal, by undertaking a retrospective cohort study using linked medical statistics, comprising a cholecystectomy group (n=39 254) and a reference cohort admitted for a range of other medical and surgical conditions (n=334 813). We found a short-term significant elevation of rates of cancers of the colon, pancreas, liver, and stomach after cholecystectomy, but no long-term elevation. Excluding colon cancers within 2 years of admission to hospital, the rate ratio for colon cancer after cholecystectomy, compared with the reference cohort, was 1.01 (95% confidence interval 0.90-1.12) and after 10 years or more follow-up it was 0.94 (0.79-1.10). It is highly improbable that the short-term associations between cholecystectomy and gastrointestinal cancers are causal, and we conclude that cholecystectomy does not cause cancer.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





1307 - 1309


Adult, Aged, Cholecystectomy, Cohort Studies, Female, Gastrointestinal Neoplasms, Humans, Incidence, Male, Medical Records, Middle Aged, Retrospective Studies, Risk Factors