From September 1976 to February 1998, we experienced 75 resected patients with hilar cholangiocarcinoma. Curative resection was performed in 45 patients (60.0%), with a cumulative 5-year survival rate of 39.8%. In this retrospective study, we compared therapeutic outcomes in these 75 patients according to the period during which they were treated; (1) 12 patients in the early period (September 1976 to August 1981) chiefly treated by bile duct resection, (2) 50 patients in the middle period, September 1981 to August 1994, chiefly treated by aggressive surgical procedures with extensive hepatectomy plus caudate lobe resection, and (3) 13 patients in the late period, September 1994 to February 1998, during which percutaneous transhepatic portal embolization was introduced to increase the safety and curability of extended hepatectomy, and limited hepatectomy was selected according to tumor spread. In the late period, total resection of the caudate lobe was done in all patients, with the aim being thorough resection of cancer cells in the caudate lobe. The curative resection rates were 16.7% in the early period, 64.0% in the middle period, and 84.6% in the late period, showing an improvement year-by-year (P < 0.05; early period vs middle period and late period). All patients in the early period died within 2 years of resection, whereas the 5-year survival rate in the middle period was 24.4%, significantly improved (P < 0.05) compared with the early period. The 1- and 3-year survival rates of 84.6% and 58.0%, respectively, in the late period, show an even greater improvement in outcome.
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