Cholangiocarcinoma is a rare tumor originating in the bile ducts, which, according to their anatomical location, is classified as intrahepatic, extrahepatic and hilar. Nevertheless, incidence rates have increased markedly in recent decades. With respect to tumor biology, several genetic alterations correlated with resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy have been identified. Here, we highlight changes in KRAS and TP53 genes that are normally associated with a more aggressive phenotype. Also IL-6 and some proteins of the BCL-2 family appear to be involved in the resistance that the cholangiocarcinoma presents toward conventional therapies. With regard to diagnosis, tumor markers most commonly used are CEA and CA 19-9, and although its use isolated appears controversial, their combined value has been increasingly advocated. In imaging terms, various methods are needed, such as abdominal ultrasound, computed tomography and cholangiopancreatography. Regarding therapy, surgical modalities are the only ones that offer chance of cure; however, due to late diagnosis, most patients cannot take advantage of them. Thus, the majority of patients are directed to other therapeutic modalities like chemotherapy, which, in this context, assumes a purely palliative role. Thus, it becomes urgent to investigate new therapeutic options for this highly aggressive type of tumor.
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Ana Filipa Brito would like to thank the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology for the award of a PhD scholarship (SFRH/BD/61378/2009). The authors thank to Center of Investigation on Environmental, Genetics and Oncobiology by the financing of the project 09/12. Support: Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, Portugal (Strategic Project PEst-C/SAU/UI3282/2013 and UID/NEU/04539/2013), COMPETE-FEDER.
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Brito, A.F., Abrantes, A.M., Encarnação, J.C. et al. Cholangiocarcinoma: from molecular biology to treatment. Med Oncol 32, 245 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12032-015-0692-x
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