Photodynamic therapy is associated with an improvement in survival in patients with irresectable hilar cholangiocarcinoma

Aaron Quyn, Dorin Ziyaie, Francesco M. Polignano, Iain S. Tait

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    61 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: The majority of patients with hilar cholangiocarcinoma have irresectable disease and require palliation with biliary stenting to alleviate symptoms and prevent biliary sepsis. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy have proved ineffective, but recent studies suggest photodynamic therapy (PDT) may improve the outlook for these patients. This prospective clinical cohort study has evaluated the efficacy of radical curative surgery, standard palliative therapy (stent +/- chemotherapy) and a novel palliative therapy (stent +/- Photofrin-PDT) in 50 consecutive patients treated for hilar cholangiocarcinoma over a 5-year period.

    Methods: Between January 2002 and December 2006, 50 patients with hilar cholangiocarcinoma were evaluated for treatment. Ten patients were considered suitable for curative resection (Cohort 1). Forty patients with irresectable disease were stratified into Cohort 2 - Stent +/- chemotherapy (n = 17); and Cohort 3 - Stent +/- PDT (n = 23). Prospective follow-up in all patients and data collected for morbidity, mortality and overall patient survival.

    Results: The median age was 68 years [range 44-83]. Positive cytology/histology was obtained in 28/50 (56%). One death in Cohort 1 occurred at 145 days after surgical resection. No treatment related-deaths occurred in Cohort 2 or 3, chemotherapy-induced morbidity in three patients in cohort 2, PDT-induced morbidity in 11 patients in cohort 3. Actual 1-year survival was 80%, 12% and 75% in Cohorts 1, 2 and 3, respectively. Mean survival after resection was 1278 days (median survival not reached). Mean and median survival was 173 and 169 days, respectively, in Cohort 2; and 512 and 425 days in Cohort 3. Patient survival was significantly longer in cohorts 1 and 3 (P < 0.0001; Log rank test).

    Conclusion: This prospective clinical cohort study has demonstrated that radical surgery and palliative Photofrin-PDT are associated with an increased survival in patients with hilar cholangiocarcinoma.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)570-577
    Number of pages8
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009


    • hilar cholangiocarcinoma
    • survival
    • curative surgery
    • photodynamic therapy


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