Objective: Little is known regarding risk factors for biliary tract cancer, i.e., gallbladder carcinoma and extrahepatic bile duct carcinoma. This is the first case-control study conducted in the U.S. regarding risk factors for these cancers. Methods: In this hospital-based case-control study, we reviewed the medical records of 69 patients with primary biliary tract cancer who were admitted to Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center for surgery between January 1, 1980, and April 4, 1994, and of 138 controls, consisting of patients admitted for surgery for benign conditions. Results: We found a significant association between cholelithiasis and biliary tract cancers (odds ratio, 19.5; 95% confidence interval, 6.459.4). Risk factors associated with gallbladder cancer included female gender, age, cigarette smoking, and postmenopausal status in women. Risk factors associated with extrahepatic bile duct cancer included history of cholecystectomy and hysterectomy in women. Conclusion: The risk factors for biliary tract cancers that have been identified in our study delineate a high-risk population, which in the future may be targeted for preventive measures.
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