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Gastrointest Endosc. 2004 Jul;60(1):68-75.

Photodynamic therapy in patients with non-resectable hilar cholangiocarcinoma: 5-year follow-up of a prospective phase II study.

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Department of Internal Medicine II, University of Leipzig, Germany.



Median survival of patients with non-resectable hilar cholangiocarcinoma is 3 to 6 months, even after biliary drainage. Therefore, a single-arm phase II study was conducted (July 1996 to October 1998) to investigate the effect of local photodynamic therapy; a significant improvement in survival (74%) was noted at 6 months. The present study is an analysis of the long-term follow-up for patients enrolled in that phase II study.


Five-year follow-up data for the 23 patients enrolled in the original prospective study were analyzed by using Kaplan-Meier log-rank analysis.


Median survival after treatment was 11.2 months for patients without distant metastases (M0) and 9.3 months for all patients (M0+M1). The 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, and 4-year survival rates were estimated to be 47%, 21%, 11% and 5%, respectively, for patients with stage M0 cholangiocarcinoma, and 39%, 17%, 9%, and 4%, respectively, for patients with stages M0 and M1. Of the patients who died, 73.9% (n=17) were because of tumor progression; 26.1% (n=6) died as a result of cholangitis (n=4), septic shock (n=1), or appendicitis/peritonitis (n=1). For all patients, except one with diffuse liver metastases, there was improvement in cholestasis, performance, and quality of life, which was maintained for an extended period.


This 5-year follow-up study confirms that photodynamic therapy is safe and effective for non-resectable hilar cholangiocarcinoma, although it does not prevent progression of the disease.

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