Second-line therapy in advanced biliary tract cancer: what should be the standard?

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2013 Nov;88(2):368-74. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2013.05.010. Epub 2013 Jun 17.


Biliary tract cancer is a rare malignant tumor. Accordingly, to perform prospective and randomized trials is difficult and the knowledge of its natural history and optimal management remains limited. Chemotherapy is commonly used to improve the outcome and to delay tumor progression in advanced disease. Only recently, cisplatin-gemcitabine combination was identified as the new standard first-line therapy. Despite the outcome improvement, disease progression is a constant and approximately half of patients failing upfront treatment maintain a good performance status and are willing to undergo further treatment. No standard salvage chemotherapy regimen has been identified yet. Experiences of salvage therapy in advanced biliary tract cancer are sparse and yielded disappointing results. Well designed multi-institutional randomized trials are warranted to clarify the role and the activity of a second-line therapy.

Keywords: Biliary tract cancer; Chemotherapy; Progressive disease; Salvage therapy; Second-line therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biliary Tract Neoplasms / mortality
  • Biliary Tract Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Biliary Tract Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Salvage Therapy*
  • Standard of Care