Study Reviews Chemotherapy for Advanced Biliary Tract Cancer

Cancer Connect

According to the results of a combined analysis of previously published studies, chemotherapy with a combination of Gemzar® (gemcitabine) and a platinum compound may produce the best outcomes among patients with advanced biliary tract cancer. These results were published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Biliary tract cancer includes cancers of the gallbladder and bile ducts (cholangiocarcinoma). These cancers are relatively rare, and tend to be diagnosed at an advanced stage.

Patients diagnosed with advanced biliary tract cancer often have poor survival, and the optimal approach to treatment remains uncertain. Patients may be treated with chemotherapy, enrolled in a clinical trial, or given best supportive care (management of symptoms).

In an attempt to identify the most effective chemotherapy regimen for advanced biliary tract cancer, researchers in Germany conducted a combined analysis of 104 previously published studies. Most of these studies were small, Phase II clinical trials. All together, these studies enrolled 2,810 patients.

  • Overall, 23% of patients experienced a partial or complete disappearance of detectable cancer following treatment with chemotherapy.
  • The highest response rates to chemotherapy occurred among patients treated with a combination of Gemzar and a platinum compound. Platinum chemotherapy drugs include Platinol® (cisplatin), Eloxatin® (oxaliplatin), and Paraplatin® (carboplatin).

Because many of the reviewed studies had limitations, the researchers emphasize the importance of additional clinical trials among patients with advanced biliary tract cancer. For the time being, however, the researchers conclude that chemotherapy with a combination of Gemzar and a platinum compound appears to produce the best outcomes.

Reference: Eckel F, Schmid RM. Chemotherapy in advanced biliary tract Carcinoma: a pooled analysis of clinical trials. British Journal of Cancer. 2007; 96:896-902.