What Are Hepatobiliary Cancers?

Photo Courtesy of Terese Winslow

Hepatobiliary cancers include cancers of the bile ducts (Cholangiocarcinoma), liver or gallbladder. Cancer is the leading cause of biliary tract obstruction, after gallstones. Cancers which can obstruct the biliary tract include tumors arising from the biliary tract itself, such as cholangiocarcinoma or gallbladder carcinoma, tumors arising from liver tissue, such as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and metastatic tumors that have spread to the liver from other locations, such as colorectal or breast cancer. Hepatobiliary cancers are the 7th leading cause of cancer death within the United States and the 3rd leading cause of cancer death worldwide*. Hepatobiliary cancers are on the rise in the U.S., with increasing numbers of cases projected in coming years. These cancers are notoriously difficult to diagnose, molecularly and genetically highly heterogeneous, refractory to standard therapies, and under-funded. For these reasons, research in Hepatobiliary cancers is an area of urgent unmet medical need.
* Parkin et al CA Cancer J Clin 55 2005; Jemal et al CA Cancer J Clin 60 2010