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Actual long-term outcome of extrahepatic bile duct cancer after surgical resection.

Annals of Surgery 2005 January
OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study were to analyze the actual long-term outcome after the surgical resection of extrahepatic bile duct cancer and to identify the characteristics shared by long-term survivors (5 years or longer).

SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: Although reported 5-year survival rates of extrahepatic bile duct cancer lie between 20% and 30%, these data are not reflecting the actual cure rate. Some patients survive longer than 5 years with recurrent disease. In some patients, recurrence is detected after 5 years. Accordingly, true cure rate is probably substantially lower than the 5-year survival rate.

METHODS: One hundred fifty-one patients from a total of 282 patients with extrahepatic bile duct cancer (excluding ampulla of Vater cancer) underwent surgical resection between 1986 and 1997. We analyzed the actual survival outcome and postresection prognostic factors after resection, which included hepatobiliary resection (HBR; extended either right or left hepatectomy, caudate lobectomy, and hilar bile duct resection, n = 23), bile duct resection (BDR; n = 25), and pancreatoduodenectomy (PD; n = 103). We also compared the clinicopathologic characteristics of actual long-term survivors (n = 49) with those who survived longer than 5 years and with short-term (<5 years) survivors.

RESULTS: Forty-nine of the 151 resection cases (32.5%) survived 5 years or longer; there was no 5-year survivor in the nonresected cases. The actual 5-year survival rate was 47.8% after HBR (11 of 23), 28.0% after BDR (7 of 25), and 30.1% after PD (31 of 103) (P = 0.083). Tumor histology and lymph node metastasis were identified as independent prognostic factors by multivariate analysis. Some long-term survivors had poor postoperative prognostic factors such as T3, lymph node metastasis, or microscopic margin involvement, but none with a poorly differentiated tumor. Seven long-term survivors had recurrent disease at 5 years, and recurrence was detected after 5 years in 8 more patients. Therefore, the actual cure rate (<19.2%) was substantially less than the 5-year survival rate.

CONCLUSIONS: In cases of extrahepatic bile duct cancer, resection should be considered and efforts should be made to obtain a tumor-free margin. An aggressive surgical approach will give some survival benefit to the patients with even advanced disease. Long-term follow up is needed before declaring "a cure," because late recurrence after 5 years is detected not infrequently. Adjuvant therapy, local and systemic, needs to be further developed.

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