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Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2018 Feb;15(2):95-111. doi: 10.1038/nrclinonc.2017.157. Epub 2017 Oct 10.

Cholangiocarcinoma - evolving concepts and therapeutic strategies.

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Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street Southwest, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.
Department of Hepatology, St Mary's Hospital, Imperial College London, Praed Street, London W2 1NY, UK.
Department of Hepatology, Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College London, Ducane Road, London W12 0HS, UK.
Department of Radiation Oncology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street Southwest, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.
The University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, 505 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.


Cholangiocarcinoma is a disease entity comprising diverse epithelial tumours with features of cholangiocyte differentiation: cholangiocarcinomas are categorized according to anatomical location as intrahepatic (iCCA), perihilar (pCCA), or distal (dCCA). Each subtype has a distinct epidemiology, biology, prognosis, and strategy for clinical management. The incidence of cholangiocarcinoma, particularly iCCA, has increased globally over the past few decades. Surgical resection remains the mainstay of potentially curative treatment for all three disease subtypes, whereas liver transplantation after neoadjuvant chemoradiation is restricted to a subset of patients with early stage pCCA. For patients with advanced-stage or unresectable disease, locoregional and systemic chemotherapeutics are the primary treatment options. Improvements in external-beam radiation therapy have facilitated the treatment of cholangiocarcinoma. Moreover, advances in comprehensive whole-exome and transcriptome sequencing have defined the genetic landscape of each cholangiocarcinoma subtype. Accordingly, promising molecular targets for precision medicine have been identified, and are being evaluated in clinical trials, including those exploring immunotherapy. Biomarker-driven trials, in which patients are stratified according to anatomical cholangiocarcinoma subtype and genetic aberrations, will be essential in the development of targeted therapies. Targeting the rich tumour stroma of cholangiocarcinoma in conjunction with targeted therapies might also be useful. Herein, we review the evolving developments in the epidemiology, pathogenesis, and management of cholangiocarcinoma.

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