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Cancer. 1997 Jan 1;79(1):26-34.

What constitutes long-term survival after surgery for hilar cholangiocarcinoma?

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Clinic of Abdominal and Transplantation Surgery, Hanover Medical School, Germany.



Hilar cholangiocarcinomas are rarely considered to be resectable and specific data regarding long-term survival are not available.


A retrospective single center experience from 1971 and 1995 details long-term survival among 339 patients who underwent surgery for adenocarcinoma of the hepatic duct bifurcation. Tumor removal was accomplished by resection of the bile duct bifurcation either alone (33 patients), in combination with hepatic resection (77 patients), or combined with hepatic and vascular resection (41 patients). Thirty-two patients underwent total hepatectomy and liver transplantation. In 188 patients the tumor was unresectable and palliative internal or external biliary drainage was established. The resectability rate was 49.2% and rose to 54% after inclusion of liver transplantation. The clinicopathologic features of 32 5-year survivors were compared with patients whose survival was less than 5 years.


Thirty-two patients survived longer than 5 years after surgical treatment of hilar cholangiocarcinoma; 22 of these patients (69%) were still alive at last follow-up. Twenty-six long-term survivors had primarily undergone resection; 4 received liver transplants. There was 1 long-term survivor beyond 5 years after both exploratory laparotomy and subsequent percutaneous transhepatic drainage, and palliative hepatojejunostomy. Long-term survival after resection was significantly associated with less advanced tumor stages. Lymph node involvement and residual tumor were the primary prognostic factors both in a multivariate analysis after resection and in the cohort of long-term survivors. Nevertheless, long-term survivors were still at a significant risk to die from tumor recurrence.


Radical resection offers the best possibility of prolonged survival with a good quality of life for patients with hilar cholangiocarcinoma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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