Purpose: To analyze the outcome of postoperative radiotherapy (RT) or chemoradiation for patients with extrahepatic bile duct cancer who had undergone either curative or palliative surgery, and to identify the prognostic factors for these patients.
Methods and materials: Between March 1982 and December 1994, 91 patients with extrahepatic bile duct cancer underwent RT at the Department of Therapeutic Radiology, Seoul National University Hospital. Of these patients, 84 were included in this retrospective study. The male/female ratio was 3.7:1 (66 men and 18 women). The median age of the patients was 58 years (range 33-76). Gross total surgical resection was performed in 72 patients, with pathologically negative margins in 47 and microscopically positive margins in 25. Twelve patients underwent surgical exploration and biopsy or subtotal resection with palliative bypass procedures. All the patients received >40 Gy of external beam RT after surgery. Concurrent 5-fluorouracil was administered during external beam RT in 71 patients, and maintenance chemotherapy was performed in 61 patients after RT completion. The minimal follow-up of the survivors was 14 months, and the median follow-up period for all the patients was 23 months (range 2-75).
Results: The overall 2- and 5-year survival rate was 52% and 31%, respectively. The 2- and 5-year disease-free survival rate was 48% and 26%, respectively. On univariate analysis using the Kaplan-Meier product limit method, the use of chemotherapy, performance status, N stage, size of residual tumor, stage, and tumor location were significant prognostic factors. However, on multivariate analysis using Cox's proportional hazard model, N stage (N0 vs. N1 and N2, p = 0.02) was the only significant prognostic factor.
Conclusion: Long-term survival can be expected in patients with extrahepatic bile duct cancer who undergo radical surgery and postoperative chemoradiation. Regional lymph node metastasis is a poor prognostic factor for these patients.