Hilar cholangiocarcinoma is pathologically similar to pancreatic duct adenocarcinoma: suggestions of similar background and development

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Routine experiences suggest that cholangiocarcinomas (CCAs) show different clinicopathological behaviors along the biliary tree, and hilar CCA apparently resembles pancreatic duct adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Herein, the backgrounds for these similarities were reviewed. While all cases of PDAC, hilar CCA, intrahepatic CCA (ICCA) and CCA components of combined hepatocellular-cholangiocarcinoma (cHC-CCA) were adenocarcinomas, micropapillary patterns and columnar carcinoma cells were common in PDAC and hilar CCA, and trabecular components and cuboidal carcinoma cells were common in ICCA and CCA components of cHC-CCA. Anterior gradient protein-2 and S100P were frequently expressed in perihilar CCA and PDAC, while neural cell adhesion molecule and luminal epithelial membrane antigen were common in CCA components of c-HC-CCA. Pdx1 and Hes1 were frequently and markedly expressed aberrantly in PDAC and perihilar CCA, although their expression was rare and mild in CCA components in cHC-CCA and ICCA. Hilar CCA showed a similar postoperative prognosis to PDAC but differed from ICCA and cHC-CCA. Taken together, hilar CCA may differ from ICCA and CCA components of cHC-CCA but have a similar development to PDAC. These similarities may be explained by the unique anatomical, embryological and reactive nature of the pancreatobiliary tract. Further studies of these intractable malignancies are warranted.

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