Neither neoadjuvant nor adjuvant therapy increases survival after biliary tract cancer resection with wide negative margins

J Gastrointest Surg. 2012 Sep;16(9):1666-71. doi: 10.1007/s11605-012-1935-1. Epub 2012 Jul 10.


Background: We investigated the role of neoadjuvant/adjuvant therapies on survival for resectable biliary tract cancer. We hypothesized that neoadjuvant and adjuvant therapy should improve the survival probability in these patients.

Methods: This was a retrospective review of a prospective database of patients resected for gallbladder cancer (GBC) and cholangiocarcinoma (CC). One hundred fifty-seven patients underwent resection for primary GBC (n = 63) and CC (n = 94). Fisher's exact test, Student's t test, the log-rank test, and a Cox proportional hazard model determined significant differences.

Results: The 5-year overall survival rate after resection of GBC and CC was 50.6 % and 30.4 %, respectively. Of the patients, 17.8 % received neoadjuvant chemotherapy, 48.7 % received adjuvant chemotherapy, while 15.8 % received adjuvant chemoradiotherapy. Patients with negative margins of at least 1 cm had a 5-year survival rate of 52.4 % (p < 0.01). Adjuvant therapy did not significantly prolong survival. Neoadjuvant therapy delayed surgical resection on average for 6.8 months (p < 0.0001). Immediate resection increased median survival from 42.3 to 53.5 months (p = 0.01).

Conclusions: Early surgical resection of biliary tract malignancies with 1 cm tumor-free margins provides the best probability for long-term survival. Currently available neoadjuvant or adjuvant therapy does not improve survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / mortality
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / pathology
  • Bile Duct Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Bile Ducts, Intrahepatic*
  • Chemoradiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / mortality
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / pathology
  • Cholangiocarcinoma / therapy*
  • Female
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / mortality
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / pathology
  • Gallbladder Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis