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Cholangiocarcinomas are rare malignant tumors composed of cells that resemble those of the biliary tract. On the basis of their anatomic location, cholangiocarcinomas can be classified as intrahepatic, extrahepatic and hilar tumors. For reasons that are not clear, the incidence of cholangiocarcinoma is increasing globally. Established risk factors, including conditions associated with chronic biliary tract inflammation, account for a small proportion of cases. Additional risk factors such as cirrhosis, infection with hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus are now becoming recognized. The diagnosis of cholangiocarcinoma requires the integration of clinical information, imaging studies of the hepatic parenchyma and biliary tract, tumor markers, and histology. In terms of the treatment options for cholangiocarcinoma, surgery can be curative, although few patients are candidates for surgery. Palliative biliary decompression can provide symptomatic relief. Advances in MRI and positron-emission tomography scanning, identification of new tumor markers, improved utility of biliary cytology, and the use of photodynamic therapy for adjunct treatment are all expected to enhance the diagnosis, evaluation and management of cholangiocarcinoma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-42
Number of pages10
JournalNature Clinical Practice Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006


  • Biliary tract malignancy
  • Diagnosis
  • Epidemiology
  • Management
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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