Adjuvant treatment in biliary tract cancer

Andrea Palloni, Giorgio Frega, Stefania De Lorenzo, Alessandro Rizzo, Francesca Abbati, Marzia Deserti, Simona Tavolari, Giovanni Brandi


Biliary tract cancers (BTCs) are a heterogeneous group of malignancies with a dismal prognosis. Despite radical surgery, the five-year overall survival (OS) does not exceed 40% in the best series. Adjuvant treatments are widely used even though they have mainly been investigated in small retrospective series until recently. Available data suggest that chemotherapy with 5-fluorouracil (and relative prodrugs) or gemcitabine can reduce the risk of relapse and potentially improve patients’ long-term outcome. The role of adjuvant radiotherapy seems to be confined to patients with positive surgical margins. In addition, patients with high-risk factors for relapse (nodal involvement and non-radical resection) benefit most from chemotherapy. Recent results from large randomized trials have clarified the benefit of adjuvant treatments and probably defined a new standard of care.