Klatskin Tumor

Author: OncoLink Team
Content Contributor: Elizabeth Prechtel-Dunphy, MSN, CRNP
Last Reviewed:

Klatskin tumors are a type of cholangiocarcinoma. Cholangiocarcinoma is cancer of the bile duct system. Dr. Klatskin first described this tumor in 1965. It is located at the hilum. The hilum is where the left and right bile ducts join and leave the liver. These two ducts join to make one duct that drains into the bowel.  

What causes a Klatskin tumor?

It is not known what causes a Klatskin tumor.  

What are the symptoms of a Klatskin tumor?

Symptoms are often caused by the tumor blocking drainage from the bile duct. These include:

  • Jaundice, which is the buildup of bilirubin that leads to yellowing of the skin and eyes. 
  • Clay-colored stools caused by the lack of bile in the bowel. Bile normally darkens the stool. 
  • Bilirubinuria which is dark-colored urine. 
  • Pruritus (itchy skin). 
  • Weight loss. 
  • Abdominal pain. 

Jaundice is the most common symptom of cholangiocarcinomas and is often the presenting symptom. Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure that is used to take a biopsy of a bile duct mass, and it can allow placement of a stent to open the duct and relieve jaundice.

How is a Klatskin tumor treated?

Klatskin tumors can involve the liver and one or both ducts. If the tumor only involves one side of the liver and/or one side of the bile duct, it may be possible to surgically remove it. If surgery is not possible, radiation therapy can be used with or without low-dose chemotherapy. Low-dose chemotherapy can make the tissue more sensitive to the radiation. Chemotherapy medications that are used are fluorouracilgemcitabine, and cisplatin

Photodynamic therapy is being studied in clinical trials as a treatment for cholangiocarcinomas and has shown promising results for inoperable tumors.

References

National Center for Advancing Translation Sciences. Klatskin Tumor. Found at: https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/10175/klatskin-tumor

Orphanet. Klatskin tumor. 2012. Found at: https://www.orpha.net/consor/cgi-bin/OC_Exp.php?lng=en&Expert=99978

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