Liver transplantation for unresectable primary liver cancer has met with skepticism due to early aggressive recurrences occurring in early series from many centers. The primary tumors for which transplantation has been performed have been hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma. In an attempt to improve these poor results, we instituted a protocol with adjuvant chemotherapy and radiotherapy after liver transplantation for cholangiocarcinoma. Between December 1984 and December 1992, 701 patients underwent 795 liver transplants. Seventeen patients had a diagnosis of cholangiocarcinoma and form the basis of this review. Three patients were excluded from the study, two because of early postoperative deaths, and one because of an unknown bony metastasis present at the time of transplant. Eleven patients have experienced a recurrence, and 7 of these died secondary to their recurrence. Three patients are alive with no evidence of disease 44 months, 31 months, and 28 months, respectively, after transplant. The 1-year survival rate in these patients is 53%, and the disease-free survival rate is 40%. Patients were able to tolerate the adjuvant chemotherapy and radiotherapy without apparent morbidity or mortality. Unfortunately, this protocol does not appear to provide significant benefit. Until a better adjuvant therapy protocol is developed, it is questionable whether unresectable cholangiocarcinoma should be considered an indication for liver transplantation.
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