Noninvasive and minimally invasive papillary carcinomas of the extrahepatic bile ducts




Adenocarcinomas of the extrahepatic bile ducts (EBD) are uncommon neoplasms that are morphologically heterogenous and associated with a poor prognosis. Papillary carcinomas of the EBD, however, appear to follow a much less aggressive clinical course.


The authors reviewed the clinical records of nine patients with papillary carcinoma of the EBD, analyzed the microscopic features, and selected immunohistochemical reactivity (p53 and MIB-1) that might correlate with patient survival.


Six patients were male and three were female, with a mean age of 65 years (range, 48–83 years). The clinical presentation of disease in these patients was similar to that reported for conventional adenocarcinoma of EBD. According to their cell phenotypes, these papillary carcinomas were classified as biliary type (7 cases) and intestinal type (2 cases). Most were located in the common bile duct and were well differentiated (7 cases). Five showed minimal expansile invasion into the ductal wall and four were noninvasive. Five patients were treated with a Whipple operation, three underwent segmental resections, and one underwent a left hepatic lobectomy. One patient died of unrelated causes 16 years after a Whipple operation, and another died of postoperative complications. The remaining 7 patients are alive and disease free 1–13 years after surgery.


Noninvasive and minimally invasive papillary carcinomas of the EBD are associated with excellent long term prognosis regardless of their cytologic features or their immunohistochemical reactivity to p53 and MIB-1. These tumors should be distinguished from biliary papillomatosis, intraductal papillary mucinous carcinomas of the pancreas extending into the bile ducts, papillary adenomas, and papillary hyperplasia. Cancer 2000;89:508–15. © 2000 American Cancer Society.