Background: Malignancies arising from the biliary tract can arise from the epithelial lining of the biliary tract and surrounding tissues. Conditions that predispose to malignancy as well as preneoplastic changes in biliary tract epithelia have been identified. In this overview, we discuss preneoplastic conditions of the biliary tract and emphasize their clinical relevance. Results: Chronic biliary tract inflammation predisposes to cancer in the biliary tract. Biliary tract carcinogenesis involves a multistep process as a consequence of chronic biliary epithelial injury or inflammation. Reminiscent of other gastrointestinal epithelial malignancies such as gastric, colon, and pancreatic cancer, biliary tract cancers may evolve via multistep progression from epithelial hyperplasia and dysplasia to malignant transformation. The potential role of initiating cells is also becoming recognized. Conclusions: In spite of improved risk factor recognition, and advances in diagnostic tools, the early diagnosis of pre-malignant or malignant biliary tract conditions is extremely challenging, and there is a paucity of evidence on which to base their management. As a result, the role of pre-emptive surgery remains largely undefined.
- Liver cancers
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis
ASJC Scopus subject areas