Klin Onkol 2010; 23(4): 231-241.

Bile duct malignancies include intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC), extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ECC), gall bladder carcinoma (GC) and carcinoma of Vater’s ampulla (ampulloma). Bile duct neoplasms are rare tumours with overall poor prognosis. The overall incidence affects up to 12.5 per 100,000 persons in the Czech Republic. The mortality rate has risen recently to 9.5 per 100,000 persons. The incidence and mortality have been remarkably stable over the past 3 decades. The survival rate of patients with these tumours is poor, usually not exceeding 12 months. The diagnostic process is complex, uneasy and usually late. Most cases are diagnosed when unresectable, and palliative treatment is the main approach of medical care for these tumours. The treatment remains very challenging. New approaches have not brought much improvement in this field. Standards of palliative care are lacking and quality of life assessments are surprisingly not common. From the scarce data it seems, however, that multimodal individually tailored treatment can prolong patients’ survival and improve the health-related quality of life. The care in specialized centres offers methods of surgery, interventional radiology, clinical oncology and high quality supportive care. These methods are discussed in the article in greater detail. Improvements in this field can be sought in new diagnostic methods and new procedures in surgery and interventional radiology. Understanding the tumour biology on the molecular level could shift the strategy to a more successful one, resulting in more cured patients. Further improvements in palliative care can be sought by defining new targets and new drug development. The lack of patients with bile duct neoplasms has been the limiting factor for any improvements. A new design of larger randomized international multicentric clinical trials with prompt data sharing could help to overcome this major problem. Defining standards of palliative care is a necessity. Addressing health-related quality of life could help to assess the real benefit of palliative treatment.

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