BACKGROUND:: Hilar cholangiocarcinoma is an uncommon tumor with a poor prognosis. We sought to evaluate recurrence patterns and prognostic factors for disease-specific and disease-free survival in patients with surgically resected hilar cholangiocarcinoma in a single institution over the last 21 years. METHODS:: From 1985 to 2006, all patients with hilar cholangiocarcinoma referred to a tertiary surgical clinic were evaluated. Demographic data, tumor characteristics, and outcome were analyzed retrospectively. Outcome was compared in patients treated in a recent era (1995-2006) compared with an earlier era (1985-1994). RESULTS:: Of 91 patients evaluated, 22 patients (24%) had unresectable disease at presentation. Of the 69 patients submitted to laparotomy, resection was possible in 55% and the curative (R0) resection rate was 63%. In patients submitted to exploration, the operative (60 day) morbidity and mortality rates were 26% and 3%. Median disease-specific (DSS) and disease-free survival (DFS) were 29 and 20 months, respectively (median FU, 29 months.). In patients undergoing R0 resection, the median survival was prolonged (65 months). In the more recent era, resectability rates improved (69% vs. 17%; P = 0.0002), and this was associated with an improvement in median survival (30 vs. 4 months; P < 0.001). Factors predictive of improved disease-specific and disease-free survival included negative histologic margins, concomitant hepatic lobectomy, lack of nodal disease, well-differentiated histology, and an earlier tumor stage (P < 0.05). Concomitant liver resection was associated with a higher R0 resection rate (P = 0.006) and improved DSS and DFS (P = 0.005). In addition, concomitant liver resection was associated with a decreased incidence of initial recurrence in liver (P = 0.031). CONCLUSIONS:: In patients with hilar cholangiocarcinoma, concomitant hepatic resection is associated with improved DFS, DSS, and decreased hepatic recurrence. Therefore, hepatectomy combined with bile duct resection should be considered standard treatment.
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