, Volume 36, Issue 9, pp 2179-2186,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 09 May 2012

Long-term Survival in Hilar Cholangiocarcinoma also Possible in Unresectable Patients



Radical resection remains the only curative treatment for hilar cholangiocarcinoma (HCCA). Only a limited proportion of patients, however, are eligible for resection. The survival and prognostic factors of these patients are largely unknown. The aim of this study was to evaluate survival and prognostic factors in unresectable patients presenting with HCCA.


We performed a cohort study of the denominator of HCCA patients seen in a tertiary referral center between March 2003 and March 2009. Demographics, treatment, pathology results, and survival were analyzed.


A total of 217 patients with suspected HCCA were identified. Ninety-five patients (40 %) underwent laparotomy, and in 57 (63 %) of these patients resection was performed. Overall median and 5-year survival of resected patients were 37 months and 43 %, respectively, as compared to 13 months and 7 % in unresectable patients. In unresectable patients, median survival was better in patients with locally advanced disease (16 months) as compared to patients with hepatic and extrahepatic metastases (5 and 3 months, p < 0.001). Of the 160 unresectable patients, 17 (10 %) survived longer than 3 years.


Of the patients presenting with HCCA in our center, 26 % proved resectable. The 7 % long-term survival rate of unresectable patients is remarkable and emphasizes the indolent growth of some of these tumors. Patients with metastases had a much worse prognosis with a median of 4 months.