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Cholangiocarcinomas (bile duct cancers) are a heterogeneous group of malignancies arising from the epithelial cells of the intrahepatic, perihilar and extrahepatic bile ducts. Patients diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma must be evaluated by a multidisciplinary team and be treated with individualized management. First of all, it is very important to define the potential resectability of the tumor because surgery is the main therapeutic option for these patients. Overall, cholangiocarcinomas have a very poor prognosis. The 5-year survival rate is 5%-10%. In cases with a potentially curative surgery, 5-year survival rates of 25%-30% are reported. Therefore, it is necessary to increase the cure rate from surgery, exploring the survival benefit of any adjuvant strategy. It is difficult to clarify the role of adjuvant treatment in localized and locally advanced cholangiocarcinomas. There are limited data and the role of adjuvant chemotherapy/chemoradiation in patients with resected biliary tract cancer is poorly defined. The most relevant studies in the adjuvant setting are one from Japan, the well known ESPAC-3 and BILCAP from the United Kingdom and a meta-analysis. We show the results of these trials. According to medical oncology guidelines, postoperative adjuvant therapy is widely recommended for all patients with intrahepatic or extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma who have microscopically positive resection margins, as well as for those with a complete resection but node-positive disease. Clinical trials are ongoing. The locally advanced cholangiocarcinoma setting includes a heterogeneous mix of patients: (1) patients who have had surgery but with macroscopic residual disease; (2) patients with locally recurrent disease after potentially curative treatment; and (3) patients with locally unresectable disease at presentation. In these patients, surgery is not an option and chemoradiation therapy can prolong overall survival and provide control of symptoms due to local tumor effects. Nowadays, no neoadjuvant therapy can be considered a standard approach for the treatment of patients with cholangiocarcinoma. There are promising results and randomized trials are needed in patients with a metastatic cholangiocarcinoma. In systemic therapy, no single drug or combination has consistently increased median survival beyond the expected 8-12 mo. It is always recommended that patients enrol in clinical trials. Clinical trials have shown that the more standard chemotherapy for a first line regimen of gemcitabine plus cisplatin (or oxaliplatin as a potentially better tolerated agent) is superior to gemcitabine alone. Leucovorin-modulated 5-fluorouracil, capecitabine monotherapy or single agent gemcitabine are reasonable options for patients with a borderline performance status. After progression in patients with an adequate performance status, active regimens that could be considered include gemcitabine plus capecitabine, or erlotinib plus bevacizumab, for second line treatment.
Natalia Ramírez-Merino, Santiago Ponce Aix, Hernán Cortés-Funes, Department of Medical Oncology, Clinica La Luz, 28003 Madrid, Spain.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: World journal of gastrointestinal oncology
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