Concurrent Chemoradiotherapy in Resected Extrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma

John W. Nelson, A. Paiman Ghafoori, Christopher G. Willett, Douglas S. Tyler, Theodore N. Pappas, Bryan M. Clary, Herbert I. Hurwitz, Johanna C. Bendell, Michael A. Morse, Robert W. Clough, Brian G. Czito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Purpose: Extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma is a rare malignancy. Despite radical resection, survival remains poor, with high rates of local and distant failure. To clarify the role of radiotherapy with chemotherapy, we performed a retrospective analysis of resected patients who had undergone chemoradiotherapy. Methods and Materials: A total of 45 patients (13 with proximal and 32 with distal disease) underwent resection plus radiotherapy (median dose, 50.4 Gy). All but 1 patient received concurrent fluoropyrimidine-based chemotherapy. The median follow-up was 30 months for all patients and 40 months for survivors. Results: Of the 45 patients, 33 underwent adjuvant radiotherapy, and 12 were treated neoadjuvantly. The 5-year actuarial overall survival, disease-free survival, metastasis-free survival, and locoregional control rates were 33%, 37%, 42%, and 78%, respectively. The median survival was 34 months. No patient died perioperatively. Patient age ≤60 years and perineural involvement adversely affected survival on univariate analysis. Patients undergoing R0 resection had a significantly improved rate of local control but no survival advantage. Despite having more advanced disease at presentation, patients treated neoadjuvantly had a longer survival (5-year survival 53% vs. 23%, p = 0.16) and similar rates of Grade 2-3 surgical morbidity (16% vs. 33%, p = 0.24) compared with those treated in the postoperative setting. Conclusion: These study results suggest a possible local control benefit from chemoradiotherapy combined with surgery in patients with advanced, resected biliary cancer. Furthermore, our results suggest that a treatment strategy that includes preoperative chemoradiotherapy might result in improved tumor resectability with similar surgical morbidity compared with patients treated postoperatively, as well as potentially improved survival outcomes. Distant failure remains a significant failure pattern, suggesting the need for more effective systemic therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-153
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • 5-Fluorouracil
  • Adjuvant therapy
  • Biliary cancer
  • Radiotherapy
  • Surgical resection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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