Infographic: Liver Transplant Bile Duct Cancer

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.

15% Overall

  • 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.