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Cholangiocarcinoma: Aggressive Surgical Intervention Remains Justified

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Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) continues to be a difficult disease to both diagnose and treat. Optimal treatment includes resection to histologically negative margins. In recent years, advanced imaging, including magnetic resonance cholangiography and endoscopic ultrasound, has presumably improved the accuracy of determining resectability. From 2004 to 2009, a total of 61 patients with cholangiocarcinoma were evaluated for resection. The majority were men (37) and ages ranged from 29 to 87 years (mean, 67 years). Only 31 per cent were found to be obviously unresectable based on imaging alone. The remaining 69 per cent underwent exploration, at which time resection was found unfeasible in an additional 25 per cent (overall 56% unresectable). Although all resection specimens had grossly negative margins, 37 per cent were ultimately found to be microscopically positive. The overall 5-year actuarial survival for patients undergoing resection was 39.2 per cent with no survival difference between those with positive and negative margins. Despite advances in diagnostic imaging, more than half of patients with CCA presenting for surgical evaluation are ultimately found to be unresectable. However, the final determination can still only be made at the time of exploration. Even in the presence of microscopic residual disease, surgical intervention results in improved survival. An aggressive stance toward surgical intervention in patients with CCA remains justified.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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  • The Southeastern Surgical Congress owns and publishes The American Surgeon monthly. It is the official journal of the Congress and the Southern California Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, which all members receive each month. The journal brings up to date clinical advances in surgical knowledge in a popular reference format. In addition to publishing papers presented at the annual meetings of the associated organizations, the journal publishes selected unsolicited manuscripts. If you have a manuscript you'd like to see published in The American Surgeon select "Information for Authors" from the Related Information options below. A Copyright Release Form must accompany all manuscripts submitted.
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