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Semin Liver Dis. 2004 May;24(2):165-75.

Endoscopic management of cholangiocarcinoma.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.


Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is an uncommon malignant tumor arising from the biliary epithelium. The incidence increases with age and usually affects individuals in their 6th or 7th decade of life. Those patients with underlying risk factors such as primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and choledochal cysts generally present 2 decades earlier. Most patients clinically present with painless jaundice; however, other common symptoms include pruritus, weight loss, and abdominal pain. Although surgical resection offers the only hope for cure, most patients are found to have unresectable disease on initial presentation and have an extremely grim prognosis. This has led to an emphasis on the role of palliative care, with relief of biliary obstruction, in the management of these patients. Surgical bypass was once the primary means of palliation of jaundice in patients with unresectable cholangiocarcinoma but in the last 2 decades has been superseded by less invasive and less morbid nonsurgical procedures such as endoscopic and percutaneous biliary stent placement. Newer modalities of palliation such as endoscopic delivery of photodynamic therapy and high-intensity ultrasound therapy are emerging nonsurgical modalities that may result in improved survival and may play a future role as an adjunctive therapy to surgical resection.

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