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Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma: report of 272 patients compared with 5,829 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma

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To clarify clinicopathologic differences between patients with intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and identify potential factors influencing survival after hepatectomy for ICC.


Comparison of clinicopathologic data was made between patients who underwent hepatectomy for ICC (n = 272) and HCC (n = 5,829) during the same period. Twenty-five clinicopathologic variables were selected for univariate and multivariate analyses to evaluate their influence on prognosis of ICC.


Compared with patients with HCC, ICC patients were more common in females and more elderly, had a lower proportion of asymptomatic tumors, lower serum alpha-fetoprotein, higher serum carcinoembryonic antigen, carbohydrate antigen 19–9 and alkaline phosphatase levels; lower incidence of hepatitis history, associated cirrhosis and serum hepatitis B surface antigen; lower proportion of small tumors, well-encapsulated tumors and tumor emboli in the portal vein; higher proportion of single tumor, perihila lymph node involvement and poor differentiation; and less frequency of limited resection (all, < 0.0001). Distant metastasis was less frequent in patients with ICC (= 0.027). A total of 5-years overall and disease-free survival (in brackets) after resection was 26.4% (13.1%) and 44.5% (33.1%) (< 0.0001, < 0.0001) for patients with ICC and HCC, respectively. Factors influencing survival after resection of ICC can be divided mainly into two categories: early detection of asymptomatic ICC (< 0.0001) and curative resection (= 0.002).


ICC Patients have distinct clinicopathologic features as compared with HCC patients. Surgery remains the only effective treatment for ICC. Early detection of asymptomatic ICC and curative resection were the key to achieve optimal survival.

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Fig. 1



Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma


Primary liver cancer


Hepatocellular carcinoma




Carcinoembryonic antigen


Carbohydrate antigen 19-9


Gamma-glutamgl transpeptidase


Alkaline phosphatase


Alanine aminotransferase


Aspartate aminotranferase


Total bilirubin


Direct bilirubin




Hepatitis B surface antigen


Antihepatitis C virus


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We thank Wei-De Zhang, M.D., for conducting the statistical analysis; Qiang Gao, MD, Ph.D., and Wan-Xia Xiong, M.D., for preparing the manuscript.

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We declare that we have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Xin-Da Zhou.

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Zhou, X., Tang, Z., Fan, J. et al. Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma: report of 272 patients compared with 5,829 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol 135, 1073–1080 (2009).

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  • Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Prognosis