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Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2012 Aug;6(4):481-95. doi: 10.1586/egh.12.20.

Management of perihilar cholangiocarcinoma in the era of multimodal therapy.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Harvey 611, 600 N Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.


Perihilar cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is the second most common primary malignant tumor of the liver. In the USA, there are approximately 3000 cases of CCA diagnosed annually, with approximately 50-70% of these tumors arising at the hilar plate of the biliary tree. Risk factors include advanced age, male gender, primary sclerosing cholangitis, choledochal cysts, cholelithiasis, parasitic infection, inflammatory bowel disease, cirrhosis and chronic pancreatitis. Patients typically present with jaundice, abdominal pain, pruritus and weight loss. The mainstays of treatment include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and photodynamic therapy. Specific preoperative interventions for patients with perihilar CCA include endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, percutanteous transhepatic cholangiography and portal vein embolization. Surgical resection offers the only chance for curative therapy in perihilar CCA. R0 resection is of utmost importance and has been linked to improved survival. Major hepatic resection is needed to achieve both longitudinal and radial margins negative for tumor. Fractionated stereotactic body radiotherapy has shown promising results in CCA. Perihilar CCA typically presents with advanced disease, and many patients receive systemic therapy; however, the response to current regimens is limited. Orthotopic liver transplantation offers complete resection of locally advanced tumors in select patient groups.

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