Liver Transplants Save Lives When Rare Cancer Strikes
- Bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma) begins in the passage between the gallbladder and intestine.
- The standard treatment is surgical removal of the cancer.
- Liver transplant may be a treatment option in cases where bile duct cancer in the liver cannot be surgically removed.
Mayo Clinic pioneered care that is dramatically improving outcomes.
1) Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- The chemotherapy drugs make the tumor more sensitive to radiation.
- Radiation kills cancer cells, but also damages healthy cells.
2) High-dose brachytherapy radiation
- Internal radiation, known as brachytherapy, uses small wires that are placed near the cancer and slowly release radiation.
- This kills off even more of the cancer, but leaves the liver unable to function.
3) Liver transplant
- After radiation, the patient waits for a donor liver.
- In some cases, a living donor can be identified, shortening the wait.
Dramatic improvement in 5-year survival rates.
- For all cases of bile duct cancer, 5-year survival rates are low without treatment.
28% with liver transplant only
- Transplant without the new protocol improved survival for some.
- New tumors developed in 51% of cases.
71% with new protocol
- People are carefully screened and selected – not all with this condition can get this treatment.
- For those who can, survival is comparable to all liver transplants.
Consider a second opinion.
- Bile duct cancer can be challenging to diagnose.
- Doctors who specialize in rare cancers may be able to help.
- There are only a few centers in the U.S. offering liver transplant for bile duct cancer.
Sources: MayoClinic.org; Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.gov; Cancer.net.