Molecular Features and Targeted Therapies in Extrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma: Promises and Failures

Cancers (Basel). 2020 Nov 4;12(11):3256. doi: 10.3390/cancers12113256.


Biliary tract cancers (BTCs) include a heterogenous group of aggressive malignancies with limited therapeutic options. According to their anatomical location, these hepatobiliary tumors are usually classified into intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCCA), extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (eCCA), and gallbladder cancer (GBC). Unfortunately, BTCs are often diagnosed when already metastatic, and although the advent of genomic sequencing has led to a deeper understanding of iCCA pathogenesis, very little data are currently available about the molecular landscape of eCCA. Moreover, despite novel systemic treatments emerging in BTC, the grim prognosis of eCCA patients has not changed in the past decade, and no targeted therapies have been approved so far. The aim of the current review is to provide an overview regarding molecular features and potential targeted therapies in eCCA, together with novel therapeutic approaches and future directions of translational and clinical research on this highly aggressive disease that poses many unanswered questions.

Keywords: biliary tract cancer; cholangiocarcinoma; extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma; liver cancer; targeted therapies.

Publication types

  • Review