July 1st 2004
Gallbladder carcinoma and carcinoma of the bile ducts are relativelyrare cancers in the United States. These cancers are often diagnosedin an advanced stage due to their nonspecific symptomatologyand until recently have been associated with a dismal prognosis. Recentadvances in imaging and surgical techniques along with emergingoptions in palliative chemotherapy have improved the outlook inthese cancers. While complete surgical resection remains the only hopeof cure in both these cancers, palliative biliary decompression and chemotherapyresult in substantial improvement in quality of life. Part 1 ofthis review, which appeared in last month’s issue, provided a relevantand comprehensive update of molecular pathology, imaging modalities,and surgical care. In part 2, we examine palliative care and systemictherapy in gallbladder and biliary tract carcinomas, as well asthe use of liver transplantation in the treatment of cholangiocarcinomas.These strategies are of relevance to internists as well as oncologistscaring for these patients.