Article Abstract

Radiation therapy for hepatobiliary malignancies

Authors: Jonathan W. Lischalk, Michael C. Repka, Keith Unger


Hepatobiliary malignancies represent a heterogeneous group of diseases, which often arise in a background of underlying hepatic dysfunction complicating their local management. Surgical resection continues to be the standard of care for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cholangiocarcinoma (CC); unfortunately the majority of patients are inoperable at presentation. The aggressiveness of these lesions makes locoregional control of particular importance. Historical experience with less sophisticated radiotherapy resulted in underwhelming efficacy and oftentimes prohibitive liver toxicity. However, with the advent of extremely conformal and precise radiotherapy delivery, dose escalation to the tumor with sparing of surrounding normal tissue has yielded notable improvements in efficacy for this modality of treatment. Dose escalation has come in a variety of forms most notably as stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) and hypofractionated proton therapy. As radiation techniques continue to improve, their proper incorporation into the local management of hepatobiliary malignancies will be paramount in improving the prognosis of what is a grave diagnosis.