, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 396-404
Date: 12 Feb 2012

Chemotherapy for the Biliary Tract Cancers: Moving Toward Improved Survival Time

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The biliary tract carcinomas rank fifth in incidence among all gastrointestinal tumours. This group of tumours includes both cholangiocarcinoma and gallbladder carcinoma. Although surgery represents the main therapeutic option for these patients, both radiotherapy and chemotherapy could be used in a multidisciplinary approach. Several studies are currently available on the use of chemotherapy, including 5-fluorouracil, mitomycin C, methotrexate, doxorubicin and cisplatin or newer anticancer molecules, such as gemcitabine, capecitabine, oxaliplatin and irinotecan. However, the small sample size of most of these studies prevents generalization.


We reviewed the available data on both chemotherapy and targeted therapies for biliary carcinoma. By using conventional chemotherapy, a response rate ranging from 10% to 40% has been reported. Although encouraging data emerged with the use of targeted therapies, further efforts are needed to improve treatment options for patients with biliary tract cancer.